Cleveland gets federal grant to hire back 21 laid-off firefighters

CLEVELAND - The city of Cleveland announced Friday it has received a grant that will allow it to hire back 21 firefighters who were laid off due to city budget cuts.

The city cut 51 firefighters in June as a part of 321 total layoffs that were carried out across the city. The cutbacks included closing five of the 40 fire companies.

According to a news release from the city, a $3.5 million SAFER grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be used to hire 21 firefighters back as soon as July 11. Four others are being recalled due to retirements.

City leaders said they negotiated with FEMA to obtain the maximum funding possible. The grant will cover the salary and benefits costs of the recalled firefighters for two years.

"On behalf of the city of Cleveland, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to FEMA for their continued assistance in providing vital resources for our city," said Mayor Frank Jackson.

Mayor Jackson said the cuts were necessary due to a lack of flexibility in the state's proposed budget, which had been used during the past five years to balance the city's budget. Jackson said the state's proposed budget imposes a $35.7 million deficit on the city.

The city said the remaining 24 laid off firefighters will be recalled through attrition or other grant funding opportunities.

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