UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The Utica Common Council passed pieces of legislation that will impact the Utica Fire Department as well as other Emergency Service Personnel. The vote will increase the complement of the Utica Fire Department to 132 by adding 8 more firefighters through a SAFER grant.

“The grant would allow three years of 100 percent compensation for adding the firefighters to the complement,” said Chief Scott Ingersoll.

Now that The City of Utica has the Council’s approval, they will submit an application to be approved for this grant which will pay for the cost and retention of the 8 fire personnel for three years. After three years, the city will take over the cost. Chief Ingersoll explains that they would work with the administration to ensure those employees remain on the job.

“The intention is always is to retain those firefighters because they’re needed to provide a vital service,” said Ingersoll.

The council also voted to encourage the mayor to apply for funds provided under the ‘American Rescue Plan’ to allocate “Premium Pay” to Fire, Police, and EMS personnel who have performed essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The premium pay would be up to $13/hour in addition to their normal wages, and will not exceed $25,000 dollars.

The payment process will be fully decided by the mayor and his staff, but Chief Ingersoll says that this payment is needed after the services that have been provided during the uncertainties of the pandemic. 

“When COVID hit there wasn’t a lot of protective gear out at the time. There was a lot of unknowns with that. It took us a while to catch up with our protective gear. Guys were exposed more frequently during that time. There’s some stress involved with that. There’s the fact that guys are bringing that home and potentially infecting their families, things of that nature. During the normal course of the last two years they’ve really stepped up and showed up and unrelenting on their pursuit of taking care of this,” said Ingersoll.