Although the city budget is tight, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray announced in a news conference Friday the plans to hire 25 firefighters.
The recruits will fill vacant positions open because of retirement and resignation.
“It will be hard for the city budget to afford 25 firefighters, but harder for us not to,” Gray said. “Public safety is our top priority, and I’m convinced that the public’s safety requires more firefighters.”
This year the fire department lost nearly 40 firefighters due to retirements. The retirements, plus resignations, brought the manpower on the Lexington Fire Department from 526 down to 484 firefighters for the city. That's the lowest staffing number since 2000.
Lexington's Interim Fire Chief Keith Jackson said during the announcement he was happy with the decision.
"We look forward to continuing safe practices and making citizens feel safe," Jackson says.
Mayor Gray says the hiring process will start in February or March. The recruits will undergo 18 weeks of training, and they should be out on the streets responding to emergencies by mid-June.