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Chico firefighters seeking support for federal grant

By Tyler May, tmay@krcrtv.com
Published On: Feb 15 2014 12:44:19 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 15 2014 12:48:20 AM CST
CHICO, Calif. -

Chico firefighters hit the streets Friday afternoon asking downtown Chico business owners to encourage the city council to approve a $5.3 million federal grant.

That could add more firefighters to the downtown area.

They argued the added firefighters would make them safer.

The grant was approved in January by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

But the city council still needs to vote to accept the funding.

It would allow the department to hire five additional firefighters, bringing the total to 15 firefighters on staff each day for two years plus benefits.

Chico Fire officials said the grant is crucial for the safety of downtown Chico.

"The people in this area at Station 1 have been without a water pumping apparatus for a couple of years now,” said John Keslo, President of the Chico Firefighters Association. “We've made it work, but we are spinning the wheel from a cylinder on a revolver to when one of these older buildings are going to need water on a fire quickly so we can hold it just the building."

The grant will allow Chico Fire Engine One to start operating again. It provides service to downtown and Chico State.

It will also bring back a fire engine at Station Three which protects folks who live next to the Chico Airport.

Despite the grant being only two years long, fire officials believe there's a 60 percent chance it would get renewed.

The grant will be discussed by the city council next Tuesday.

The majority of the council said they want to hear from the public and get more information before making a decision.

Firefighters are encouraging anyone who wants to voice their opinion on this matter to go to the meeting.

That meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night in the City Council Chambers.