With just 15 firefighters on staff, Jackson considers hiring grant


JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — How many firefighters does a city need? That’s the question folks in Jackson are asking themselves.

For a mid-sized city, it’s been revealed that Jackson has what some see as a very low number of firefighters.

The city of Jackson confirms that its fire department only has 15 firefighters on staff.

Over $1 million could be coming from the federal government to hire more firefighters.

But that may not solve the city’s problems.

The city says Jackson has seen a major reduction in fires over the past four years.

“Once every two weeks, you can say on average, firefighters are leaving and going to an actual fire,” said City Public Information Officer Will Forgrave.

The city uses those figures to justify having just 15 firefighters for a city of 33,000 people.

“For the number of fires we have here in our community, I would say that’s adequate,” Forgrave said.

But that could be changing.

FEMA has offered the city a $1.6 million grant to hire nine firefighters for two years.

“It’s not simply free money. It will still cost the city some funds,” Forgrave said.

Some feel the last time the city took this grant, they got burned.

Forgrave says Jackson still had to pay for training and retirement costs.

Then, after two years, let go seven firefighters.

However, the local firefighters union doesn’t feel the city is being truthful.

“It’s not going to be linked to pensions, it’s not going to have legacy costs down the road to the taxpayer,” said Scott Stoker, President of the Summit-Jackson Professionals Fire Fighters Union.

The union says having 15 firefighters is dangerously low and something needs to be done.

“There’s going to be a time when both rigs are out and there’s going to be no one to respond,” Stoker said.   “We hope the city council does the right thing for the citizens of Jackson and they accept the grant.”

The city council has until October to decide if they want to take on the grant.

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