Ogdensburg to apply for grant to hire more firefighters

Mar. 26—OGDENSBURG — The City Council on Monday approved the submission of a grant to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that if approved could pay the salaries of four new firefighters.

The 2023 Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response, SAFER grant is due April 12 and assists fire departments in hiring and staffing firefighters for a period of up to three years.

If approved, the grant award would cover the salary and benefits in full for four firefighters. No cost share is required.

"If awarded the 2023 FEMA SAFER Grant, the Fire Department will deploy four (4) New Hires in such a way as to comply with NFPA 1710," the council resolution reads.

In its first meeting of the new year, the newly sworn-in City Council added six firefighters to the 2024 budget citing it as a way to save on overtime and hazard pay costs. Due to minimum staffing clauses in the Local 1799 contract that required five firefighters on duty per shift, firefighters were routinely receiving overtime and hazard pay when levels fell short. The city budgeted $536,375 for overtime and another $185,292 for hazard pay this year.

The hiring of the six firefighters put the department to 24 total members, including a fire chief and four captains. The six new hires are still training at the city of Watertown's fire academy, which is 16 weeks long.

The SAFER grant would not be able to pay for the new hires made earlier this year.

In other City Council action Monday:

— Environmental Design and Research (EDR) was selected to prepare an inflow and infiltration engineering report as part of an Environmental Facilities Corp. (EFC) Engineering Planning Grant it had received in the fall of 2022. The cost of the contract is not to exceed $42,446.

— City Council called for a special meeting on Thursday, April 11 at 6 p.m. The only item on the agenda is an executive session to "discuss the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation."

Mayor Michael J. Tooley said that the reason for the executive session was to meet with consultant John Krol who is conducting a search for a city manager.