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West Valley City Journal

West Valley to get 15 new firefighters

Sep 19, 2018 10:28AM ● By Jana Klopsch

Through a grant from FEMA, West Valley City will be able to hire 15 new firefighters, primarily to staff the new Station 76. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected] 

A new fire station was recently built in southwest West Valley City. Now the fire department has the personnel to staff it. 

The West Valley City Council unanimously approved accepting a grant from FEMA for the hiring of 15 new firefighters. 

The grant pays for the hiring of 15 new firefighters with 75 percent of their wages and benefits paid for during the first and second years. Thirty-five percent will be paid during the third year, but starting the fourth year, WVC will be required to pay all of the firefighter’s wages and benefits. 

As part of the grant agreement, the city agrees to not drop below 110 personnel—95 plus the additional 15. 

The grant is known as SAFER and this isn’t the first time West Valley City has received it. The last time saw four firefighters hired. Fire Chief John Evans specifically requested 15 this time to fully staff the new station 76 at 5372 S. Upper Ridge Road.

Mayor Ron Bigelow pointed out during the city council meeting prior to its approval that the cost of those 15 firefighters to the city would be $855,000 which runs about $57,000 per firefighter — the standard starting wage. 

Bigelow said they would be essentially committing to approving these salaries four years from now. 

“The way I look at it,” said Councilman Steve Buhler, “is we built a fire station, we found a grant to fund staffing it, to ease us into that…if we keep it staffed and don’t close down another station, we’ll of course have to pay for staff.” 

Buhler would later add, “we’re not sending fire trucks without hoses and we’re not building fire stations without staffing them. We’re trying to protect our residents.”   

Added Councilman Don Christensen, “this gives us four years to work it into the budget without any problem.”