DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – As fire departments in Ohio deal with record call volume, the governor’s office is offering some help ease some of the stress and workload.

Several departments in the Miami Valley are receiving funding for retention, recruitment and wellness.

The Dayton Fire Department had its highest call volume ever in 2022, with more than 41,000 runs.

DFD is getting a $5.8 million grant from the Ohio First Responder Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience Program. $5.3 million of that will support 30 full-time firefighter positions.

Dayton Fire Chief and Director Jeff Lykins said he is still working on whether the grant money will create new positions or supplement their class of recruits starting in January.

“It could be a combination of of that, we just haven’t had those discussions,” Lykins said. “We did want to at least address the fact that we were super excited to get the award. We have great plans for it and we do have an idea, but we just need more information.”

Gov. Mike DeWine created the grant program to distribute $75 million dollars of American Rescue Plan Act funds over multiple rounds to to law enforcement agencies, dispatch centers, fire departments, and EMS agencies. The program aims to address burnout caused by stress on the job and understaffing.

The Huber Heights Fire Division received two grants in two separate rounds. The department will use $547,000 to hire a firefighter/paramedic and create administrative staffing roles.

Administrative Battalion Chief John Russel said the money will help put an Alternative Response Vehicle on the streets to relieve some workload.

“They’re going to be able to go out and help the medic crew with lift assist or be able to go out and help and really, hopefully keep some of the call volume down on some of our fire crews so that they don’t have to go out and do some of those things,” Russell said.

Along with addressing staffing challenges, the grants can also be used so first responder agencies and support the physical and mental health of their staff.

“We have not always been the best at taking about our emotional needs or, you know, our mental wellness, and obviously, every day the men and women of the Dayton Fire Department respond to tragedies,” Lykins said.

DFD will use the remaining portion of its grant to fund a wellness coordinator position and a clinician to look after the physical and mental health of their firefighters.

The Huber Heights Fire Division also received $287,000 to a full-time wellness coordinator and enter a contract with a local health care provider.

Russell said prioritizing mental health could make the fire service a more viable, long-term career.

“It’s a way to ensure that we’re keeping good quality employees for the length of their careers and not just, you know, ‘Hey, I’m I’m burnt out five, six, seven years,'” Russell said.

Also during this round of awards, the Xenia Public Safety Division received a grant for more than $130,000 for mental health and on-site wellness training.

DeWine has awarded $49 million as part of this program so far. For a full list of every agency in Ohio that has received a grant so far, click here.