FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --The City of Fresno just got a little safer. Accompanied by Congressman Jim Costa, Chief Kerri Donis announced the city is the recipient of a federal grant designed to help support staffing for adequate fire and emergency response. Something she said brings the city one step closer to rebuilding the department.
Chief Donis said, "It not only will improve our efficiency and effectiveness of this fire department, it will improve the safety of our firefighters."
The nearly $2.7-million Safer Grant allows the city to fill 12 positions and the federal dollars will pay salary and benefits for two years. The city budget that passed in July will sustain the firefighters beyond the life of the grant. The grant brings the number of firefighters on duty each day up to 77.
"It's a boost in the right direction. At our high we were at 82, so were headed in the right direction. We've been improving every year for the last two and a half years," said Chief Donis.
The goal is to grow the department to where it was and beyond. They are hoping to eventually have 100 firefighters on duty per day. Including the airport-- the City of Fresno has 24 fire stations covering 336 square miles. The Safer Grant comes as 16 recruits get ready to graduate and join the ranks of Fresno Fire.
"They look good, they're ready to go. They've had 14 weeks of training, and they are ready to go out in the field," said Todd Tuggle, Deputy Chief City of Fresno.
Come Friday, 14 weeks of training on everything from pulling hose and throwing ladder, to medical aid response and urban search and rescue will be recognized.
"This is our first full recruit academy since 2008," said Tuggle.
Though this graduating class was hired through retirements, the Safer Grant allows for a new class to move in-- starting as soon as October 3rd.