GOFFSTOWN — Four new firefighters are coming to Goffstown thanks in part to a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA.
The town of Goffstown recently learned that it is this year’s only New Hampshire recipient of FEMA’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, making it one of just over two dozen communities across the country to obtain the funding.
From fiscal years ‘19 to ‘22, the SAFER grant will contribute $650,000 toward the hiring of the new firefighters, after town meeting voters agreed to the appropriation of approximately $350,000 toward the new firefighters if the grant request was successful.
The grant was unanimously accepted by the Goffstown Board of Selectmen during Monday night’s meeting. Board Vice Chairman Mark Lemay said that without the grant, it would have been unlikely that the town would have been able to afford the onboarding of the new firefighters anytime in the near future.
With the grant, Fire Department Chief Brian Allard said Goffstown firefighters and paramedics will likely now be able to meet the National Fire Protection Association’s recommended response times and also be better prepared in situations where there are simultaneous calls in different parts of town.
Although the grant funding ends after fiscal year ’22, the ability to better respond to simultaneous calls could reduce the need to pay other nearby towns for assistance, recouping money for the town in the long run.
The funding is also a psychological boost for current members of the Goffstown Fire Department, according to Lt. Derek Chouinard, president of the Professional Firefighters of Goffstown, the town’s union for full-time firefighters.
This funding marks the first time Chouinard has seen a four-person jump in the department’s roster since he was hired eight years ago, and he believes it will make a significant impact on lowering stress among the town’s first responders.
“It will give us availability if guys call out or take vacations; it’s one more body per shift,” he said. “It also allows us to diversify and bring a better response to the community.”
The four new firefighters will be hired alongside the replacement of two firefighters who recently left Goffstown to join the Nashua Fire Department.