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Woodburn Fire District gets grant to hire three new firefighters

Woodburn Fire District has received a $606,063 federal grant and will hire three new firefighters for at least two years, Chief Paul Iverson said last week.

The grant money will allow the fire district to boost each of its three shifts from three to four firefighters, Iverson said.

Budget limitations have kept staffing down, Iverson said. While there have not been any layoffs, there has not been any new hiring to replace staff lost through attrition, he said.

“It’s nice to have four in the engine,” he said. “It just puts more firefighters on the ground quicker. For fire suppression, it’s better to have more firefighters on the scene.”

Currently, the fire district has nine shift personnel plus three full-time administrators. The grant will boost that number to 12 spread out over three separate shifts, he said.

The grant was received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s $320 million Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program, which provides funding directly to fire departments and other organizations across the country.

SAFER grants are being used to hire new firefighters, rehire those who have been laid off and fill positions that were vacated through attrition, according to FEMA’s website, www.fema.gov.

Woodburn will seek to hire the three new firefighters within the next 90 days, Iverson said. The fire district will post the positions this week.