Beloit Fire to lose three firefighters

BELOIT, Wi. (WIFR) -- Beloit Fire Department will be losing 3 employees next year after they stop receiving funds from a federal grant.

It's called the SAFER grants program, standing for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response.

As the title implies, SAFER is a federal grant that's given to certain jurisdictions to help with funding staff.

The fire department expects to receive around a 1,000 more calls this year compared to last year, and fire crews tell me they could use the help of this funding.

However, starting this spring the Beloit Fire Department will no longer be receiving the nearly $500,000 that they have been using to pay three employees. Since the last application period, requirements have changed.

The grant now requires a match of public funds and for the department to be able to pay grant-supported staff for a year without the help of this funding.

Beloit fire crews tells me that losing this grant will force the department to rely more on nearby fire departments for help and puts the city council in a tough spot.

"It's not really a fair choice either because. We're bound by state law,” says Beloit Fire Chief, Bradley Liggett. “We're bound by the value of the properties in the city. We're bound by other financial obligations like benefits and salaries and operational costs.”

Beloit Fire expects to lose those 3 employees through retirement, so they have no plans to lay anyone off. However, once those employees retire, they will be unable to replace them without the grant.

Beloit City Council says they will start budgeting discussions about how to make up for this loss of funding in September.

On the other hand, Rockford Fire Department tells us they have applied for the grant, but they have never been able to receive it.