Montgomery Fire/Rescue has received a $3.5 million federal grant to hire more firefighters after experiencing a shortage in staffing.
The Montgomery Advertiser reports that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering the grant after the department spent more than $2 million beyond its budget in overtime, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. The department will receive the grant over the next three years to help fill 33 positions.
"The additional 33 firefighters provided by this grant will help us meet the increasing demand for suppression and emergency medical services. Sen. Shelby's support for this grant award speaks to his abiding commitment to the public's safety and his unflagging work on behalf of our city and state," Mayor Todd Strange said in statement.
Officials say the grant will help with overtime issues with the department and bring employment levels near their target goal.
The city of Montgomery will put forward about $2 million over three years to match the $3.5 million put forth by FEMA.
Fire/Rescue chief of staff John Petrey said it will cost about $480,000 the first year and expected to be covered by the savings from reduced overtime.
In the first two years, the city will pay for 25 percent of the associated costs, according to FEMA, with that cost increasing to 65 percent in year three.
Martha Earnhardt, spokeswoman for public safety, said that new employees are paid about $38,000 a year.
The grant and new classes planned for the force will bring the department's staff level to 448. That would be the highest it has been in recent years and would inch the city closer to its goal of 480 firefighters.
The application process began earlier this year, Petrey said.
"Your application consists of historical data based upon run volume, staffing and your budget. And one of the items they look at in your budget, of course, is your overtime," he said. "So how can the administration of this grant help you to overcome that obstacle of overtime that prevents you from running academy classes and maintaining staffing at the same time?"