PETAL, Miss. - Petal is 1/5 fire departments across the state to be awarded a SAFER grant from FEMA.
The department received a $961,869 grant, which will go towards staffing.
Joe Hendry, Chief of Petal Fire Department said, "We got adequate equipment, but we need to keep adequate-trained personnel on that apparatus, because it's useless without the people. And we're serving the people and we want to do it in the safest manner and the best manner that we can."
The department has 24 people (not including administration positions), with eight working per shift. This grant will add nine new positions, which will enable the department to have three additional people working each shift.
"Right now working two people per truck is something not optimal. Three is what we would have for sure with additional personnel, which is not up to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards, but it's a gigantic leap from two," said Hendry.
The department will hire nine new people within 12 months.
Hendry said The City of Petal will have cost-share on the grant for the first three years. The department will then most likely have to cover the salaries of the nine additional positions.