The Clinton Fire Department was awarded a $664,536 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program Friday.

“I’m excited,” Fire Chief Mike Brown said. “The key here is we’re still waiting to see how we can use these funds.”

At the time the fire department applied for the grant, six positions were slated to be cut due to budget shortfalls. The grant would have funded the wages and benefits for those six positions for two years. Since then, the department has gained five of those positions back.

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grants can be used for two purposes — retaining emergency responders who have been or will be furloughed or recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. The grant is not allowed to be used to increase staffing, the fire department reports.    

The goal of the grant is to enhance the fire department’s ability to attain 24-hour staffing.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, announced the grant.

“It is important that we do all we can to help keep Iowans safe and ensure that our firefighters have adequate resources,” Harkin said.

Harkin stated the grant would be used for volunteer firefighter recruitment, however Brown said, this is not the case as Clinton is a paid department.

Instead the fire department hopes to offset the city budget by paying for the salaries and benefits of the positions it gained back in between applying for and receiving the grant.  

The grant program is administered through Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration.  

Brown said the fire department will work with the FEMA grant administrators to see how the funds can be used.