The Warren Fire Department avoided laying off 14 firefighters after federal officials approved $1.7 million that remained on a federal grant that was in danger of expiring on Monday.
Warren Fire Chief Ken Nussle said officials told him the grant was extended at about 10 a.m. Friday. The grant was part of a $4.9 million grant to help the fire department retain firefighters.
But officials had not extended the remaining $1.7 million that would fund 14 firefighters during the next year.
Nussle said he applied for the grant extension in April. If the extension was not approved, 14 firefighters would have been laid off on Monday.
Cory Sanzone was one of the firefighters who would have been laid off and said he is relieved it didn’t come to that, especially with a wedding in his future.
“I have a fiancé and we are planning on getting married, so it’s one of those things we would have had to make all these changes to our wedding plans,” said Sanzone. “Now, we are going to go back to the way we were originally going to do it, so it’s a huge relief.”
Warren Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said he was ready with a contingency plan in case the grant wasn’t approved but is “more than happy” that the grant extension came through.
John Jerina, president of the Association of Firefighters Local 204 said it was a team effort in securing the grant extension.
“Between the International Association of Firefighters and the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters we worked hard with them,” said Jerina. “They did some back door stuff that helped us out a little bit and working well with the city and the fire chief we accomplished something that alone we probably couldn’t of.”
The remainder of the grant can be used for up to two years. Fire officials are already looking at how they fill the funding gap after that.