FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A multi-million dollar grant will bring a big boost to staffing for the Fresno Fire Department.
The $7.4 million SAFER grant will pay for 24 new firefighters for three years, bringing the department's daily staffing closer to the national standard of one firefighter per thousand people.
Mayor Jerry Dyer says the city has already recruited and set aside funds for training.
"The addition of these firefighters means we'll save time, we'll be able to really provide a better level of service and enhance safety to our community," Dyer explained.
The money also adds a fourth squad to the department to handle medical calls for service.
To give you an idea of how that will improve efficiency, a rig from Station 3 responded to more than 2,600 medical, rescue and fire calls in 2022.
That's in addition to the more than 5,100 calls that Engine and Ladder 3 handled.
"When you have low staffing and a high volume of fire calls, it does tend to hurt the morale. But having 66 firefighters added to a department in 2 years, that helps the morale," Dyer said.
The grant comes at a time when the department is seeing a record number of fire calls for service.
There were 7,710 calls in 2022, compared to roughly 3,847 in 2019.
Chief Kerri Donis says it moves the department in right direction when it comes to keeping pace with the growth of the city, both in square miles and population.
"There's a response time that's a requirement for us to serve our community so that requires we build more fire stations and invest in our current stations that need repair," Donnis said.
"There's more to do but this is a great shot in the arm."
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