Fire station three in Downtown Fresno is easily the city's busiest. Firefighters there respond to an average of four-thousand calls a year. Over the past few years, they've been doing the work with just three firefighters per engine; meaning they used to have to wait for backup before battling a blaze.
J. Robert Brown, Jr., Fresno's fire chief said, "The standards that we follow, we call it 2 in, 2 out, and what the means to the general public that we need to have two people on the exterior of the fire, in order to send two people in."
Thanks to a two point five million dollar federal grant, stations in Fresno's urban areas, including three, five and nine, will now have four firefighters 24 hours day. Station 8, will have the extra manpower during peak hours.
Chief Brown said, "The value added to the rest of the community is, we're not having to pull other resources to make up for that fourth person, so those engines are home more."
That's good news for residents like Tamika Payton. She witnessed a neighbor in her Southwest Fresno neighborhood die in a 2005 house fire.
Tamika Payton of Fresno said, "It's very important that they respond as if it's their own house you know, very much powerfully, and just willing to control the fire."
Fresno fire officials say just getting the grant is a feat, due to a very competitive process. They credit themselves, as well as the mayor and the city manager's office.
Assistant city manager, Renea Smith says the extra funding made a huge difference during budget talks. She said, "Without this grant, we didn't have to make other tough decisions that may not have affected fire services, but could have affected other services city-wide."
As for Chief Brown, he says this is only the beginning of what he hopes will be a complete makeover for the entire department. He said, "The goal would be that every engine in the city would have four firefighters on board. That's a long-term goal."
No new firefighters will be hired; the department is simply shifting resources. The grant is good for two years. The city will extend the added resources for a third year -- which means these firefighters are protected from layoffs.