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September 27, 2019

2 San Bernardino County fire departments will get $2 million to protect their cities

The Rialto and Fontana fire departments are to receive nearly $2 million in federal grant funding to better protect their cities, Inland Reps. Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands, and Norma Torres, D-Ontario, announced Wednesday, Sept. 25.

Awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration, or FEMA, about $1.6 million in Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, funds will provide money for up to seven new firefighters in Rialto. A $300,000 Assistance to Firefighters Grant, meanwhile, will go toward replacing and upgrading outdated radio equipment used by the Fontana Fire Protection District.

Aguilar and Torres, both of whom sit on the House Appropriations Committee, which determines funding levels for federal agencies and programs, have long championed funding increases to public safety programs.

The federal grants “ensure that our local fire departments in the Inland Empire are appropriately staffed and prepared to deploy capabilities effectively and efficiently,” Torres said in a news release.

Rialto firefighters recently received an 8% pay raise and a new five-year contract after working without an agreement for two years.

The city of close to 104,000 residents has about 70 sworn and non-sworn employees who are responsible for fire suppression and emergency and medical response services.

Rialto leaders in March said the pay hike should boost recruitment and retention.

“I commend and applaud the effort of our Fire Department,” Mayor Deborah Robertson said, “for continuing to pursue innovative approaches to fire services and public safety for the Rialto community, as well as regional assistance where needed.”

The Fontana Fire Protection District will receive new Bluetooth-enabled breathing apparatuses to improve firefighter communication and safety while on emergency incidents.

Emergency, prevention and administrative services are provided to the district by the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

“From providing medical assistance to battling wildfires, fire departments across San Bernardino County work tirelessly to keep our community safe,” Aguilar said. “I’ll continue fighting … to give Inland Empire first responders access to the resources they need.”