The Sabattus Fire Department has always been made up of part-timers and volunteers. That’s about to change, thanks to a federal grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Troy Cailler photo

SABATTUS — The Fire Department will soon hire full-time firefighters for the first time in its history, thanks to a $1.1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Sabattus Fire Chief Troy Cailler said he’ll hire four full-time firefighters by mid-March and the effect on local fire coverage will be immediate.

“This is a huge addition to our daily staffing model for the Sabattus Fire Department,” the chief said, “and will help our organization provide the highest level of fire and EMS response to our community members and visitors.”

The department’s daily staffing will rise from two on-duty firefighters each day to four, which Cailler said will help crews to combat house fires in a way that meets national standards.

“Additionally,” he said, “with this staffing level we will be able to handle most calls we respond to with a single engine.”

The department, like others around the country, had been struggling with a lack of volunteer members able to work daytime hours. The $1.15 million Staffing For Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant from FEMA will cover the salaries and benefits for the four full-time employees over three years.

According to FEMA, the SAFER grant was created “to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, front-line firefighters available in their communities.”

Since Cailler was hired as fire chief in 2020, the department has steadily grown, helped in part by numerous sizable grants which has allowed the department to obtain much needed equipment — a drone, a water rescue boat, gas meters and gear that will enable them to conduct rope and ice water rescues, to name a few.

The department is also slated for a $2 million grant to help build a central station. Cailler expects to hear more about that at the start of 2023 after the matter is voted on in the U.S. House and Senate in Washington, D.C.

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