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TULSA, Okla. — A multi-million dollar grant is going to have a big impact on the Tulsa Fire Department.

FEMA awarded the department was $12 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant Friday.

Chief Michael Baker said the money will help them fill many vacancies within the department for three years.

The grant is specifically designed for departments with staffing shortages.

Chief Baker said right now their department has over 60 vacancies, many of those are due to firefighters retiring.

Chief Baker said it’s crucial to be fully staffed without impacting the department budget at a time when the pandemic makes it hard for them to do their jobs.

“As we continue to run through the coronavirus pandemic, the new variant emerges, and we are exposed more so as our firefighters themselves, we have a small number that have contracted the virus and we have to fill for them so we’re really keeping the staff up to the level it needs to be without stressing folks too much,” Chief Baker said.

Chief Baker said between what their department has been awarded and the current budget, they may have three academy classes within the next year.

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