Saugus, Mass., gets FEMA SAFER Grant to Hire 5 Firefighters

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton helped Saugus obtain the FEMA grant and vowed to keep working to ensure communities have enough firefighters, and that firefighters have the equipment and training they need to do their jobs.

by Bridget Turcotte, Daily Item, Lynn, Mass. / September 17, 2019

(TNS) — Public safety is heating up in Saugus.

The town will hire five new firefighters with nearly $885,000 from the state. The money comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant program.

It will allow the Saugus Fire Department to “increase firefighter presence” and decrease response time, which will allow them to better protect residents during emergencies, said Saugus Fire Chief Michael Newbury.

“Maintaining adequate staffing is absolutely critical for first responders,” said Newbury.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) helped Saugus obtain the grant and vowed to keep working to ensure communities have enough firefighters, and that firefighters have the gear and training they need to do their jobs.

“I know what it’s like to go into harm’s way without the right equipment, like in those days in Iraq when we didn’t have the right armor for ourselves or our trucks,” Moulton said in a statement. “We should expect better for the firefighters in our community.”

Saugus Firefighters, including Lt. Bill Cross, the union president of Saugus Firefighters Local #1003, have advocated for an increase in public safety resources for years.

As the number of residential and commercial properties grow, they argue the town needs to increase its resources to cover it. In particular, Cross has advocated for a third fire station to cover the west side of town with easy access to Route 1 North and South.

It’s a fight he said dates back to the early 1970s under former Fire Chief Thomas Nolan, but is even more crucial today with the mixed-use developments planned for Route 1.

Units slated to open include 245 apartments at the former Golf Country site, 250 at Essex Landing and 280 units at AvalonBay Communities, the former site of the Hilltop Steakhouse.

Because of the rapid increase in development, the town voted for a temporary moratorium on the construction of multi-family homes with three or more units for the next two years.

In the meantime, an analysis and study will be completed to determine the impact of the construction on “police, fire and emergency public safety, the school district, the water, sewer and roadway infrastructure, and the safety of the general public.”

Town Manager Scott Crabtree said public safety is a top priority for his administration.

“This is a tremendous opportunity and savings for the taxpayers of Saugus,” said Crabtree, who vowed to continue to identify public safety needs within the community and dedicate resources to further address the town’s changing needs.

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©2019 Daily Item, Lynn, Mass.

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