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Federal Grant to Help Lexington Hire More Firefighters

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Lexington is getting a boost in public safety in the form of a $2.6 million dollar grant to hire more firefighters.

The money, from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, will fund the salaries and benefits of 28 firefighters for the next two years.

The Lexington Division of Fire is coming off a year of tough budget decisions and the loss of 40 firefighters due to retirement. Chief Keith Jackson says the grant means more fire trucks and ambulances will be ready to respond to emergencies.

“We’re working towards reducing the number of brownouts that we have. We started at nine four months ago, and now we’re down to three. But the objective of course is to eliminate them totally.”

Officials credited the work of Congressman Ben Chandler’s office and members of the local firefighters union in winning the competitive grant.

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Chris Bartley, President of IAFF Local 526

“We responded to the tornado in eastern Kentucky, we responded to a fire in Carlisle a few weeks ago. So we don’t just cover here, we cover the state, and sometimes even the country. So keeping our staffing up is pretty important not only to us but everybody around us as well,” says Chris Bartley, President of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 526.

Last year Lexington was awarded a similar federal grant to hire police officers.

Lexington native Brenna Angel anchored local morning newscasts for WUKY through May 13. She joined the station in March 2010 after previously working for WHAS-AM in Louisville.