Accept and appropriate Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant from the Department of Homeland Security to fund six Portland Fire & Rescue Firefighters in the amount of $2,076,406
The City of Portland ordains:
Section 1. The Council finds
- On February 2, 2022, Portland Fire & Rescue applied to U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant (SAFER) for a grant in the amount of $2,076,406.44.
- The funding will enable Portland Fire & Rescue to hire six firefighters.
- Grant funds will upgrade Station 23’s daily staffing, located at 2915 SE 13 Place, from a 2-person Rescue, to a 4-person Engine Company.
- Additional firefighters will improve the bureau’s ability to meet the National Fire Protection Association’s response standards and enhance community and firefighter safety.
- SAFER has notified the City of Portland that it will award a grant # EMW-2021-FF-01402 to fund six full time new-hire firefighters for three years; March 14, 2023 to March 13, 2026.
- SAFER funded positions must be assigned to an operational fire suppression vehicle; reimbursement for salary and benefit expenses include training expenses.
- SAFER grant requirements involve PF&R and City to fill all SAFER funded positions, to not incur firefighter layoffs of SAFER funded or non-SAFER funded positions, and maintain the operational staffing number at the level that existed on the date of the award.
- A Match/Cost Share is not required.
NOW THEREFORE, The Council directs:
- The Mayor is hereby authorized to accept on behalf of the City of Portland a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response to fund six Portland Fire & Rescue Firefighters in the amount of $2,076,406.44.
- The FY 2022-23 Budget is hereby amended as follows:
Fund - 217
Business Area – FR
Bureau Program Expenses– $560,714
- The positions authorized in the FY 2022-23 Budget are amended as follows:
Portland Fire & Rescue
Fund - 217
Business Area - FR
Authorized FTE - 6.0
Position Type - Limited Term
- The Office of Management & Finance Grants Management Division is authorized to perform all administrative matters in relation to the grant application, grant agreement or amendments, requests for reimbursement from the grantor, and to submit required online grant documents on the Mayor’s behalf.
- The Portland Fire & Rescue Chief is authorized to accept on behalf of the City of Portland any subsequent modifications by the Department of Homeland Security, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant, award number EMW-2021-FF-01402, provided such modifications do not increase the City of Portland’s financial obligation or risk. Modifications that increase the City of Portland’s financial obligation or risk must be authorized by the Portland City Council.
Documents and Exhibits
Purpose of Proposed Legislation and Background Information
Authorize and appropriate the grant.
Financial and Budgetary Impacts
- There is not a Maintenance of Effort, minimum budget requirement, or cost share or match or position cost limit.
- FEMA has waived the non-supplanting requirement for this award; SAFER grant funds may be used to replace funds that would be available from State or local sources.
- FEMA has waived the position cost limit requirement; costs are limited to the approved budget per person.
- PF&R is requesting position authorization and appropriating budget for 6.0 FTE Firefighters, funded by SAFER grant resources
- PF&R will incur support costs for the 6.0 FTE on the magnitude of $40,000 to outfit the new recruits
- It is anticipated that the 6.0 FTE will incur some increment of overtime in their assignments, which will not be covered by the SAFER grant funding but will be funded with the bureau’s existing resources
Additional SAFER Grant information:
- The SAFER Program provides an automatic 180-day recruitment period to all Hiring grant recipients to gather resources needed to begin the recruitment and hiring process in anticipation of a start date for the new SAFER positions to begin on the first day of the POP.
- Firefighters on payroll are not eligible for these funds.
- Costs incurred for uniform allowances are also eligible for reimbursement if your department is contractually obligated to provide them and if they are included as part of the standard benefits package for all employees. Uniform allowances must be a payroll expense in order to be eligible for reimbursement by the SAFER grant.
- Compensation for a firefighter’s normal, contracted work schedule is reimbursable, but overtime costs are not eligible for reimbursement by the SAFER grant award
- If a SAFER firefighter is out on leave for any reason and you use another firefighter (SAFER or non-SAFER) to fill their position, you will not be able to request reimbursement for any incurred overtime costs.
- A list of the six new hire PF&R firefighters will create the SAFER Personnel Roster. The SAFER Personnel Roster must be updated respective to the date range of the payment request any time there are changes to the annual salary and/or benefit amounts, or when a firefighter is removed or replaced from the SAFER grant award.
- Semi-annual Programmatic Performance Reports are required; costs to report are not eligible for reimbursement.
- PF&R is required to maintain and retain the following documentation pertaining to the SAFER grant award:
- Back-up documentation
- Hiring contracts
Other documents required by federal regulations applicable at the time a grant is awarded to a recipient
Budgetary Impact Worksheet
Does this action change appropriations?
YES: Please complete the information below.
Community Impacts and Community Involvement
Station 23 will be fully staffed.
100% Renewable Goal
Budget Office Financial Impact Analysis
This grant totals $2.1 million over three years to fund six Portland Fire & Rescue Firefighters. This would upgrade Station 23 from a two-person rescue to a four-person company from March 2023-March 2026. There may be some overtime costs associated with this change, which will not be covered by the grant. The bureau has indicated that it will cover those costs through existing resources, although Fire's current total overtime projections significantly exceed current budget.
As part of the grant requirements, PF&R and the City must fill all positions funded by the grant, not incur firefighter layoffs (regardless of funding source), and maintain the operational staffing number at the level that existed on the date of the award.
PF&R’s operational model is built on a base system of maintaining a four-person company that responds to emergencies in an engine or truck. In FY 2013-14, the bureau rolled out its Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) program, which currently operates at four stations. It is the only apparatus at Station 23 but is additive at the other three stations. The intent of the RRV program is to divert lower-acuity calls from a traditional four-person company response. Currently, based on an FY 2021-22 Adopted Budget note, funding for the RRV program is to be removed from PF&R’s Current Appropriation Level Target effective July 1st, 2023. The program’s ongoing cost to the General Fund is $2.7 million (the total cost of the program is $3.3 million; however, some benefit costs are paid for via the Fire and Police Disability and Retirement levy). Unless Council takes action to reverse the prior adopted budget note, $2.7 million will be removed from the Fire Bureau’s base budget for FY 2023-24 budget development and the reduction will take effect on July 1, 2023.
As a result of the prior Council direction to reduce funding for this program, and because this grant award requires the City to maintain current firefighter staffing levels, accepting this grant of $2.1 million in one-time revenue to fund six positions would require the bureau to retain and redeploy 23.5 existing FTE and identify $2.7 million in ongoing resources within existing allocations, unless Council reverses its earlier decision and refunds the RRV program in the bureau’s budget. Also as a result of the requirement to maintain current staffing levels, should Council undertake a cut exercise in the next few years, the acceptance of this grant will restrict Council’s ability to reduce funding for the Fire Bureau through FY 2025-26.
PF&R is currently experiencing staffing shortages, and a request has been put forward by the bureau to add position authority for 13 additional firefighters. These FTE would be supported through savings in overtime costs. It is possible that redeploying the RRV staff (with the exception of those at Station 23) could help to fill shifts at other stations and similarly be funded through the reallocation of overtime. This option would require further analysis to determine whether it is fully cost neutral. And while it is the case that RRVs are additive to base response model (outside of Station 23), the elimination of this program would represent a reduction in existing service levels. At this time, it is unclear to what extent the Community Health Assess & Treat (CHAT) and Portland Street Response (PSR) programs may be able to absorb some of those lower-acuity calls when fully scaled up, depending on triage decisions.
942 Consent Agenda in November 9, 2022 Council Agenda
Referred to Commissioner of Public Affairs