Globe Local

STONEHAM

Grant will allow Stoneham to add four firefighters

Stoneham will add four new firefighters with the help of new funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The three-year $505,000 grant, together with $314,000 in town funding, will enable the Fire Department to move from 39 members to 43.

With that increase in personnel, the department will be able to run three companies — two engines and one ladder — at all times. Currently, it usually operates with one engine truck and one ladder truck.

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Officials said staffing levels can be problematic when Stoneham is providing mutual aid to another community since it leaves just one company to protect the town.

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A staffing survey of comparable area communities conducted by Fire Chief Matthew Grafton found that Stoneham was the only town to operate with only two companies. Additionally, with about 1,000 more housing units being proposed, under construction, or recently constructed in Stoneham, increasing the fire department’s roster was crucial, according to Grafton.

“This grant puts us in line with similar communities and increases safety for firefighters and our residents,” he said in a statement.

The chief is in the process of hiring the four firefighters, with plans to send them to the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in March.

The grant was awarded through FEMA’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant program.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.