The Decatur Fire and Rescue Department is increasing its staff size by 15 firefighters, and more than 400 people have already applied for the positions.
Voting Monday, the City Council unanimously accepted a $1.56 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The grant -- dubbed SAFER, or Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response -- will provide salaries and benefits to hire 15 additional firefighters for a period of two years.
The city must keep the positions for a minimum of one year after that, but officials say they anticipate keeping the posts permanently. "The message we want to give anybody we hire is that this is a career job, and we welcome you aboard," Fire and Rescue Chief Charlie Johnson told the council.
Johnson said the city will likely hire the new employees by September. He said training and equipping them would probably take another five to six months. Once on the job, the additional employees will increase the department's operational force to 117 members. That's enough to up the department's minimum daily staff size from 25 to 30 firefighters and the engine company size from three to four firefighters. Read More on FireHouse.com