SCARBOROUGH — The Fire Department will be able to hire new firefighters after winning a grant of more than $448,000 from the federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program.

The grant will pay the full salary and benefits for four firefighter/EMTs for the first two years, then require the department to pay the employees’ full wages for a mandatory third year.

“This came at an ideal time,” Fire and Rescue Chief Michael Thurlow said.

Thurlow said hiring four employees fits perfectly into the staffing proposal put before the Town Council, which called for hiring four new employees each year. The council approved the increase in 2006 and in 2009, but has not been able to fund it for the past two fiscal years.

“We’ve been so understaffed for years, we’re playing catch-up now,” Thurlow said.

The grant is supported by funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It requires that the department hire the four employees within 90 days of the award.

Thurlow said he has set a target date of Sept. 5 to have the fully trained firefighter/EMTs on staff.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or [email protected]

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