NEWPORT — The Newport Fire Department is ready to hire three more full-time firefighters thanks to a federal grant.
The Newport Town Council met for its regular meeting Thursday in the town hall boardroom on Howard Boulevard and virtually via Zoom, with Council member Rhonda Shinn absent. During the meeting, the council unanimously accepted a $559,874 “Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response” grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
According to FEMA, SAFER grants were created to provide funds to fire departments and volunteer firefighting organizations to help increase or maintain their numbers of trained staff.
Town manager Bryan Chadwick said the grant will fund three full-time firefighter positions for the department for three years and comes as the department is preparing for its state Insurance Services Office rating inspection in October.
“They (the department) are trying to make sure everything is ready,” Mr. Chadwick said.
A department’s ISO rating affects the fire insurance rates for the community the department serves. Better ratings mean lower insurance rates.
Council member Mark Eadie congratulated the department for being chosen to receive the grant.
“By us achieving that grant, it’s a reflection on our department,” he said.
Thursday’s council meeting had limited in-person attendance due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the emergence of the delta variant of the virus. Mr. Chadwick said due to social distancing measures, “we decided to limit access to offices throughout town hall and where the public can enter for the foreseeable future.”
Mr. Chadwick added, “we’re now in a pandemic era.”
As such, staffers are resuming certain physical distancing precautions.
“Our employees are also wearing masks when they’re not in personal office areas,” Mr. Chadwick said. “Our fire department and police department are now limiting access to members of the public as well.
“This is a safety precaution for our personnel and the general public,” he continued. “We understand COVID-19 is out there and the delta variant is extremely contagious. These measures are to assist in making sure work at town hall will continue, whatever the numbers may be throughout the county.”
Editor's note: This article was last updated at 1:29 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021.
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.