Hempfield’s $4.3 million SAFER grant to be managed by outside organization
Hempfield now has an outside organization dispersing and directing funds from a $4.3 million grant awarded to Westmoreland County fire departments in 2017.
Awarded Sept. 1, 2017, by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grant provides money to departments for recruiting and training, to provide retention incentives and repay tuition fees.
A change in township positions, however, led to officials contracting with Adapt Management, a grant management and marketing firm.
Township supervisors unanimously approved the contract this week, allowing the company to authorize purchases for new turnout gear, personal protection equipment, reimburse college tuition and schedule physicals, among other things. Physicals are a requirement for newly recruited firefighters.
Until now, grant money was managed by Zach Freeman, former SAFER grant coordinator. Freeman last month accepted a new position as Hempfield’s sports coordinator.
In late February, around the time Freeman started as the SAFER grant coordinator, only about $100,000 of the $4.3 million grant had been spent. By May, another $43,000 had been distributed to county volunteer fire departments — Westmoreland City, the Hempfield Bureau of Fire, Forbes Road, Ligonier, Rostraver Center, Youngwood, Penn Borough and Hyde Park — which had applied for the money.
Township Manager Jason Winters said Adapt Management will work with the township until the grant runs out Nov. 24, 2021.
Winters said the company has experience with SAFER grants nationwide. He added that local municipalities often contract out to companies for large grants.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .