New Orleans is getting $15.9 million from the federal government to hire 62 firefighters, city officials announced on Tuesday.
The grant will pay the full cost of the new hires’ salary and benefits for three years, giving the city a way to expand the New Orleans Fire Department, which firefighters have said has been understaffed for years.
“Having the grant award to pay for a three-year period allows us the cushion to pay for it,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant at a press conference on Tuesday. “We knew we needed to grow our department and this was the best way to do it.” Staffing has long been a concern at the NOFD. Under former Mayor Mitch Landrieu, budget cuts required the department to scale back the number of firefighters assigned to each truck, something the firefighters’ union objected to because it meant more vehicles had to arrive at a scene before there were enough personnel to safely enter buildings.