Flint fire department awaits grant approval amid government shutdown

A federal grant is keeping two mid-Michigan fire departments afloat.

But what happens to these much-needed funds when the federal government shuts down?

There's good news and bad news.

The bad news, FEMA workers in charge of awarding and approving grant money have been furloughed due to the shutdown.

The good? Flint and Saginaw Fire Departments have adequate funding for now.

Earlier this year the Saginaw Fire Department faced the possibility of closing fire stations and laying off more than a dozen firefighters.

"It would have been devastating," said Brandon Housbeck, vice president of the Saginaw Firefighters Local 102.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's two-year SAFER grant came to the rescue this July.

"The cost is no local dollars being spent on those positions all federal money," said Housbeck.

With federal agencies, including FEMA, on hold during the government shutdown it left the Saginaw Fire Department hanging in the balance.

"They sent us an email just to give us information letting us know that because we'd already received the grant we were in no danger of losing funds," said Housbeck.

In Flint, another story.

"April or May is when the one we're under right now is expired and after that, that's the part that gets a little bit scary," explained Mark Kovach, president of the Flint Firefighters Union.

Flint has applied but is awaiting renewal of its SAFER grant.

Meaning a government shutdown is putting the process on hold.

"It won't be an issue for us to get the money for the existing grant. How it operates in the future and how long this goes on for, I don't know," said Kovach.

Flint Fire Chief Dave Cox said he received a note from FEMA before the shutdown saying the new grant for the city was being processed.