CHICO, Calif. - It's been a long time coming but Chico Fire finally has the money to hire and train new firefighters.
In two months, 14 firefighters will be on the front lines just in time for the fire season.
The new firefighters are setting a record for the amount of firefighters the department has hired at one time in its history.
They say this will cut down on response time and help them breathe a little easier for awhile.
"We've never hired this many all at once," said Interim Fire Chief Shane Lauderdale.
All of them are embarking on a eight week training course to get ready to protect the city.
"It's an exciting day for us," Lauderdale said.
It's been three years since Chico Fire has hired new firefighters. The reason was heavy cuts on the city's budget, meaning drastic layoffs to the fire department.
Chico Fire has cut staff down to one at the fire station at the airport and has been strategically shutting down one of its six stations a day, for the day, to stay afloat financially.
"Every day, we've worried we would have the event that we weren't able to make the difference we need to make in the community," Lauderdale said.
At the beginning of the year, Chico Fire was awarded a $5.3 million federal grant. It has allowed them to put the new firefighters into the rotation.
"I cannot overstate how important it is to be able to give the protection for this community," Lauderdale said.
By second week of July there will be 66 firefighters on the Chico Fire staff meaning 22 firefighters will be on duty everyday for the next two years.
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