City Vies for Federal Grant to Restore Fire Department Staffing

San Jose is applying for a $3.3 million federal grant that would restore nearly a third of the firefighter positions lost in a round of layoffs in 2010. The City Council on Tuesday will discuss the grant application, which has to be submitted later this week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency grant would fund 14 new hires in the San Jose Fire Department, bringing staffing levels a little closer to what they were before budget cuts in 2010 forced the city to lay off 49 firefighters.

In 2011, a FEMA grant enabled the city to re-staff 27 firefighter positions cut the year prior. This year's grant would bring the agency close to its pre-recession staffing levels, providing funding for 14 new positions for two years.

The fire department plans to assign the grant-funded firefighters to relief positions, to minimize brownouts, or to put an engine back in service. It could also use the new hires to staff Station 33 on Communications Hill, since developers plan to add thousands of new homes in the south San Jose neighborhood.

Hiring more firefighters could also improve response times, which have been dangerously delinquent for a number of years.

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More from the San Jose City Council agenda for March 3, 2015:

  • The city plans to up the maximum compensation amount in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office construction project by $3.96 million, bringing the total amount to $13.6 million. Though originally set to finalize this summer, the construction schedule was pushed back to September this year.
  • San Jose will enter into a $600,000 marketing deal with Hainan Airlines to promote the new airline service between Mineta San Jose International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. It’s so NOT the feds job to prop up local fire departments. And we make ourselves beholden and give away a little bit more control of our own destiny as a City every time we grovel for these handouts.
    But it IS an effective way for ethically challenged senators, congressmen, and presidents in Washington and constitutionally clueless city councilmen in San Jose to endear themselves to cops and firefighters, buy the labor vote with taxpayer money, and get themselves reelected.

      • There’s no definitive answer to that question. What’s “adequate” is a subjective matter that we should be deciding as a community. If we San Joseans want a bigger fire and police force then we ought to be willing to pay for it.
        This “grant money” business enables us to avoid the tough choices and leads to sloppy governance.
        The “E” in FEMA stands for Emergency. How can San Jose be considered to be in some sort of emergency situation when all you have to do is finish reading the article above to see that at the same time we’re asking for $3 million we’re spending another $3 million on a patent office.
        Huge and getting huger, corrupt, wasteful government at all levels. An $18 trillion debt. In my estimation these are too big a price to pay for “adequate” SJ police and fire staffing.

        • I agree with many of your points. I’ll counter your idea with the suggestion that if residents do not wish to pay for police or fire services, they can register with 911 to have their address, phone number and license plates placed on a blocked list and will receive no services, nor be allowed to call 911. They will receive a check along with their tax returns containing the portion of their taxes back which would have been allocated to said resources.

          That makes sense right?

          Galt, you do a considerable amount of complaining, yet offer no viable solutions to fix these complex problems you chose to opine on.

          • Where can I sign up for this program? Haven’t seen a SJ police car in our neighborhood for years even when needed. Call 911 and they tell you to file a report online. What a joke. Where do I file for my tax refund?

          • As a conservative living in a liberal city I’ve got a lot to complain about!
            Until and unless the light bulb finally pops on for hundreds of thousands of voters who seem incapable of recognizing that their leftist policies and politicians cause more problems than they solve, then I have no solution- only the emotional satisfaction of having SJI as a vehicle to express my aggravation.

          • Fair enough.

            You do understand that most cops and fire fighters have views which are more closely aligned with yours outside of your vehement hate for unions?

  2. Somehow I knew you would turn this into an anti labor issue! Youre truly and idiot. People are tired of poor response in public safety thanks to your super heros in the ivory tower…. Go back in your hole

  3. $3.3million for 14 firefighters works out to just under $236k per firefighter. Not a bad entry level compensation. What Jennifer failed to inform us is whether this is a one-time grant for one year only. If so, the council has a year to find $3.3million + pay and benefits increases each year to keep them on permanently.

  4. The 3.3 is not all pay/compensation. Training/equipping, insurance and certifications comprise the lions share. That’s is what the grant is for. It is essentially paying for the start-up costs.

  5. That money pays for training equipment , training and resources . the firefighter doesn’t receive the $ 236,000 .00 . AND don’t get it twisted after the 10 % takeaway ( total Compensation) and increased payments to med/den , pension and Gasby . SJFD is stuck at 2009 level wages . Lets NOT forget that the City did offer a 5% raise , but that also comes with a 6% take away . Like everything related to this City it sounds real good , Until you dig into the details and then realize that Not all is as it seems.

    • We already have a functioning FD, so I gotta believe the training equipment and “resources”, whatever they may be, must already exist. But it really matters little where the $$ goes. Bottom line, it seems each firefighter costs the taxpayers $235k/year. Considering how little time firefighters are actually fighting fires, that seems high to me. Jeez, every time I go to the Safeway at Hamilton & Meridian, a fire engine is parked out there when I arrive, and is still there when I leave.

      • Negative . recruits use “Used gear in the academy” But upon graduation everyone is issued their own , new gear. training equipment and resources , it cost money to bring Companies down to train recruits and possibly back fill stations. it costs well over $100,000 to get a recruit thru the Academy.
        just curious , is it ok for them to eat , since they are there for 24 hrs.? Most people pay more for their cell phones than they do for fire protection here in San Jose.

        • I hear firefighters eat real well while they are at the station waiting for a fire to suppress. Or is that just an urban myth? Yeah, I know, they respond to medical emergencies, especially Station 1 downtown; but that is just a poor allocation of resources that should be handled by hiring more EMTs

          • obviously you know nothing of the Fire house or its daily routines. just a partial synopsis . most F/F’s show up to receive their counter part between 7- 7:30 , work starts at 8 . there is the standard exchange of information regarding calls ran , equipment condition, rig condition and anything out of the ordinary . change into uniform and then begin checking out all equipment in and on apparatus. Medic inventories drugs and reports to captain . The fire house gets cleaned daily by crew on duty . station meeting to discuss days activities. select a cook . Training that includes mandatory online training , live drills ( driving ops, pumping ops,tactics&strategies)and tabletop discussions . shop for chow , lunch (which could be anywhere from 1130 to 8) station maintenance, personal study , mandatory workouts . anything and everything can/will get pushed back as calls come in at anytime. firefighters eat good , because this is bonding time . they care about what they are feeding each other and they make sure that everyone has enough. because they never know what the day will hold. Firefighters are EMT’s

          • It takes a real idiot to continuously make statements about things where there is no knowledge of how things work? You’ve done it, again. How many times can you make yourself look foolish? Why don’t you try to find out how the system works before you put your foot in your mouth? And…why shouldn’t they eat well, they pay for their own meals!!!!!!!!! What an Adam Henry.

  6. Johnny Khamis, Luigi Oliverio, and Sam Liccardo together in the front row of this week’s dedication for the San Jose Fire Department dedication – the very department they have collectively gutted. How does Luigi have the gall to show up to this ceremony, yet take a front row seat? Same for Khamis and Liccardo. They disgraced the ceremony with their presence.

  7. It is an Absolute kick in the Teeth to have those Morons at ANY Fire Dept. function . They are neither liked , respected or wanted. 7 More years and Im out of this S***hole

  8. “I hear firefighters eat real well”.. what does that mean? should they prepare poor meals?.. You see the fire engine at Safeway because that is a place to buy food to prepare for the 24 hour shift. I could go into the staffing numbers and firefighters per citizens but I believe you would be better served with a face to face conversation. Your solution to hire more EMT’s speaks to your lack of knowledge of an EMS system and the fire department role within that system. It sounds like you have questions. Please visit any of our stations or better yet next time at the Safeway lets have this discussion. No hard feelings i just think you could benefit from open dialogue.

  9. Are those darned firefighters eating food again? What is next, a cop having a cup of coffee on Lincoln Ave during his shift?

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