COLUMBIA — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has awarded the Columbia Fire Department with a $658,120 grant.
Pending approval from City Council, the grant will allow for the department to hire five new firefighters and pay for their salaries for the next two years, starting March 3, according to a press release.
The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant program. The program aims to increase local fire departments' staff in hopes of bolstering emergency response.
"This grant announcement is great news for public safety in Columbia," Fire Chief Chuck Witt said in the release. "The additional firefighters will provide much needed manpower and improve overall efficiency during emergency operations."
The new hires from the grant will allow the second fire truck at Station 2 to be used more frequently, after a budget shortfall required the station's second truck team to be transferred to Station 9 in 2010, according to the release.
Although the department added four new firefighters in December, it will offer another class in early spring for the training of the five additional firefighters.