For the first time since 2008, the Hoffman Estates Fire Department has hired new firefighters.
The four new firefighters started Monday, Chief Robert Gorvett said. They will be sworn in during a village board meeting on Jan. 21.
Michael Czarnecki, whose father retired from the fire department in 2008, is filling a spot left open by a retirement, Gorvett said. Michael Petrucci, Taylor McIntyre and Peter Behnke were hired through a $581,565 grant awarded to the department by the Federal Emergency Management Agency last summer.
The grant -- which will cover the salaries and benefits for the three for the next two years -- is funded by the Department of Homeland Security's Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. It is awarded to help fire departments nationwide with hiring initiatives.
"We're one month short of five years without hiring any new firefighters. That's a record for us," Gorvett said. "We're happy to see some new hires start here."
There will be 96 firefighters with the new hires, Gorvett said. There were 106 in 2008.
About $40,000 has been budgeted for the department this year to pay for the new firefighters' training and protective equipment, as it is not covered by the grant.
Czarnecki, McIntyre and Behnke will have a starting salary of $56,175, Gorvett said. They will receive EMT training through Harper College and attend paramedic school. Petrucci, who is already a paramedic, will have a starting salary of $57,526, Gorvett said.
All four men will attend a fire academy in Glenview for nine weeks. Their salaries may change depending on the result of current contract negotiations, Gorvett said.