The Maury County Fire Department is about to see some big changes after receiving a couple of much-needed federal grants.
One of the grants, through the Department of Homeland Security's SAFER Grant Program, will allow the department to hire six firefighters.
The grant is worth $622,662.
Maury County Fire is currently a volunteer organization and has been since it started in 1970.
“As chief, this is the greatest thing that has happened to my department,” Chief Mark Gandee told Nashville's News 2.
Gandee has been with the department as a volunteer since 1980.
“I was 16-years-old, still in high school. I was washing the fire trucks and keeping things clean,” Chief Gandee recalled. “It's always been volunteer. I'm not paid, none of our staff is paid and none of our firefighters are paid.”
The six paid firefighters will work on a rotating schedule with two people at a time working 24-hour shifts.
Chief Gandee said it will cut down response times.
“It will guarantee that as soon as a call comes in we'll have someone to respond and not wait for drivers to come in,” he explained.
The department will continue to rely on its 200 or so volunteers. Those volunteers can apply for the paid positions.
The six firefighters will be guaranteed a job for two years.
When the grant money runs out the department can re-apply for more federal dollars.