The Waxahachie Fire-Rescue Department is set to add three additional full-time firefighters to its roster, thanks to a nearly half-million-dollar federal grant.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) announced the $478,665.30 award, funded by the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants program, in a Sept. 11 press release. The program provides direct funding to understaffed fire departments and volunteer firefighter organizations to help them meet industry-minimum standards and attain 24-hour staffing through the hiring of additional firefighters.

The grant “will allow us actually to get to the minimum staffing of 15 (on the scene of a benchmark structure fire), adding these three guys,” Chief Ricky Boyd said. “Right now we’re at 14, so this will allow us to get to the NFPA standard and supersede it later on.”

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1710 mandates the requirements of career fire departments.

“We are building towards opening a new fire station in a couple of years and the city is allowing us to hire additional personnel,” Boyd explained. “(The grant) enables us to have the personnel earlier than the opening of the station. It allows us to gain some experience and, at the same time, it also enables us to operate in a safer manner.”

“It’s a big win for us,” Boyd added.

Waxahachie Fire-Rescue currently has 59 full-time firefighters onboard.

The funds will be distributed over three years and will cover part of the salaries and benefits of the soon-to-be-hired firefighters.

“Firefighters are on the front lines of keeping our communities safe, and they deserve every resource possible at their disposal,” said Cornyn in the release. “I applaud area leaders for their work to obtain this grant, and I’m grateful to the Trump administration for supporting Waxahachie.”