BLOOMINGTON – In an effort to expand the number of Bloomington Fire Department (BFD) firefighters living in the community they serve, the City of Bloomington is now offering a new housing incentives pilot program within BFD.
The incentives include:
- $750 monthly rent assistance, beginning at the start of employment, for firefighters that rent a residence within the City
- $18,000 one-time down payment assistance for firefighters that purchase a residence within the City (after a probationary year)
Firefighters living where they work allows for better community connections and reduces crucial travel time in the event of an emergency situation. In addition, the new incentives pilot will assist BFD in attracting and retaining top firefighting professionals.
“This pilot program is a huge opportunity for our current and future firefighters to live in the community that they serve,” said BFD Chief Jason Moore. “This investment is a unique pilot program that we believe will be a step in the right direction towards keeping Bloomington Fire Department a top-quality, competitive organization.”
These incentives are funded in part through Mayor John Hamilton’s Recover Forward initiative and the newly approved Local Income Tax (LIT) increase by the City Council. (bloomington.in.gov/newreevenue).
“Bloomington residents deserve and rely on top-notch public safety services, and BFD can be counted on to deliver them,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “It is valuable to our community to have firefighters living in our neighborhoods – it’s good for neighbors and good for our firefighters too. We’ve already had examples where off-duty firefighters have helped respond to and resolve emergency situations. And we welcome firefighters and their families to enjoy the great quality of life in Bloomington. These incentives are an investment in public safety and in the community as a whole.”
Since 2016, there have been several instances of off-duty BFD firefighters who live within city limits being able to arrive first on the scene of a major fire or incident. In each example, the actions of the off-duty firefighter prevented loss of life and further damage to property. In one of those cases, the firefighter was able to help rescue two residents before BFD arrived on the scene. In the second case, the fire of an unoccupied building may have gone un-reported for an extended period of time if the firefighter hadn’t acted.
During the June 2019 flood event that resulted in the extreme flooding of the downtown, off-duty firefighters who lived within city limits were able to arrive on the scene quickly and assist in emergency efforts.
BFD is the largest and only fully paid fire service provider in Monroe County and as such has earned an Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating of 1/1X, placing the department in the top 0.5% of rated departments in the U.S. and the top 0.2% of rated departments in Indiana.
The Bloomington Fire Department serves the community with more than 100 employees, located among five stations, responding to over 5,000 emergencies per year. BFD provides fire suppression, technical rescue, integrated healthcare, and emergency medical response capabilities to City residents and visitors, Indiana University, and surrounding communities through aid agreements. They also provide outreach and education, supporting children, families, and schools in the community.
Similar housing incentives were announced in May of this year for Bloomington Police Department. As of this release, seven police officers have utilized the rental incentive. Read more about BPD incentives at bloomington.in.gov/news/2022/05/19/5186.
About Recover Forward
Recover Forward is a multi-year initiative to help our community rebound and thrive as we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, moving toward greater racial, economic, and climate justice as we do so.
More than $15 million has been approved to date by the City Council for critical investments. Recover Forward Bloomington includes $9 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and $6 million from City reserve funds. Read more here: bloomington.in.gov/recoverforward.