What did Clackamas County get on Black Friday? Clackamas Fire District No. 1 received nearly $2 million in federal grant funding to hire nine new full-time firefighters.

The third-largest fire department in Oregon was among only four fire departments nationally chosen to receive grant funding after submitting a comprehensive application and undergoing a subsequent U.S. Department of Homeland Security review process.

The $1.9 million SAFER Grant officially awarded Nov. 29 will fully fund firefighter salaries and benefits for a period of two years, allowing three community fire stations to enhance emergency response capabilities and increasing firefighter safety while Clackamas Fire responds to nearly 17,000 calls for service annually in its 178-square-mile coverage area. Its $44.5 million annual budget currently enlists 173 career and 117 dedicated volunteer firefighters.

Calling it great news for Clackamas County, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley said the grant also will increase firefighter safety and create better response times for the entire community.

Areas just east of Happy Valley and south of Oregon City will especially benefit from stationing new firefighters who are on duty one third of the time. Pleasant Valley Station 7 and South End Station 17, which currently have two-firefighter squad all hours of the day, will become three-firefighter teams ready with a much larger engine that can carry 750 gallons of water.

“It’s really quite an increase in service for both those communities,” said Clackamas Fire spokesman Brandon Paxton.

Clackamas Fire’s Operations Department will determine the third station to receive the grant funding before the nine new firefighters are expected to be hired and serving in the community by spring.

SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response), a FEMA program, works to rehire laid-off firefighters, retain firefighters facing layoffs, hire new firefighters, and recruit and retain volunteer firefighters.

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