The Santa Maria Fire Department plans to use a nearly $1.6 million federal grant it just received to hire nine new firefighters.
The firefighters will reportedly be hired over the next three years.
City officials say the Staffing for Adequate Emergency Response (SAFER) grant from FEMA will fund 75 percent of the cost of the new positions for the first two years and 35 percent for the third year. Measure U sales tax money will cover the remaining expenses for the first three years and 100 percent of the expenses starting in the fourth year.
The city says the grant will allow the fire department to add an additional response unit to Fire Station No. 1.
The fire department is reportedly now hiring and expects the new response unit to be fully staffed by the second quarter of next year.