City Wins Federal Fire Grants

The Philadelphia Fire Department has received two federal grants worth a combined $18.4 million to pay for new firefighters and train current ones.

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah announced the awards Wednesday. Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said this was the first time the city had won the larger of the two grants - $16.3 million administered through FEMA to hire new firefighters.

Ayers said the money would pay the salaries and benefits of 128 firefighters for two years. As of June 30, the department had about 2,000 firefighters but should have more than 2,200.

Two fire academy classes, with 160 recruits, are slated to begin training in August.

The second grant, $2.1 million from a Homeland Security program for firefighters, will go toward training newly-promoted officers replacing those lost through retirement.

Ayers said the department had been stressing in its grant applications the city’s need for more firefighters, the high cost of overtime and the city’s tight finances.

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