WILKES-BARRE — The Wilkes-Barre Fire Department has been awarded a $1.2 million federal grant to hire eight new firefighters.
That will bring the total number in the city to 67.
“It’s going to increase the level of safety for the firefighters that are on duty, but it’s going to give us a higher level of safety. We’re hopeful to get a third fire engine company place back in service,” said Fire Chief Jay Delaney.
Right now, Chief Delaney said there are two ambulances, two fire trucks and one ladder truck ready for emergencies.
He said the grant money will allow the city to reopen the South Station on Parrish Street in the city and man it with another fire truck about 80 percent of the time.
Delaney said that could mean better response time for people in the Rolling Mill Hill, the Heights, and South sections of the city.
“I think it’s fantastic, I don’t think the federal government or the state government does enough to help local communities or the local fireman or the local policemen for that matter. I think it’s fantastic,” said John Demeck of Wilkes-Barre.
The news of the grant money came just hours after 10 new city police officers were sworn in at Wilkes-Barre Police Headquarters.
City officials called it a great day for Wilkes-Barre and the people who live in the city.
“The city is struggling as many cities are across the country, it’s very important that we do receive state aid to fund our fire department, to fund our police department, to fund the operations of the city,” said Mayor Tom Leighton.
“I don’t think Wilkes-Barre is too safe. There’s a lot of crime happening, a lot of crime on campus where I go to school,” said Ryan Gimbi, who said anything that makes Wilkes-Barre safer is a good thing.
The mayor said eight of the 10 new police officers start Monday.
The fire chief said he hopes to have the eight new firefighters hired, trained and on the job this summer.