The grant money comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is meant to make sure there is adequate staffing for fire and emergency response teams. As part of the $1.4 million deal, fire officials must hire 15 qualified candidates to become new firefighters within the next 90 days.
Battalion Chief Andy Sannipoli wrote the grant proposal and felt the department made a compelling argument for needing the money.
"Several years ago we built Fire Station 15 in Treyburn. At the time we were in the heart of the recession. Investment in personnel is a 30 year commitment, so at that time we couldn't afford and didn't have the funds to hire and staff that station," Sannipoli said.
To get around that, officials pulled existing staff from other Durham stations to work at the Treyburn station.
"We're coming into a period where attrition and retirement is starting to take away from our staffing. So we were coming up short. We're still able to staff the station, but not at the level we'd like to see it," Sannipoli said.
Now the grant will help Durham firefighters attain the level of service they desire. The grant will pay for the salary and benefits of new firefighters for their first two years. Then the city will take on responsibility of footing the bill.
The department began holding an open house for potential candidates and will continue to do so until next weekend. Candidates don't need prior experience but will be required to pass a written and physical test.
The fire department hopes to hire new candidates by the end of September.