Altoona welcomes five new firefighters
Updated: Monday, February 3 2014, 01:47 PM EST
By: WJAC Web Staff
ALTOONA, Pa. -- Blair County's largest community welcomed some new firefighters to their ranks with the help of a state grant.
The Altoona Fire Department conducted a swearing-in ceremony Monday morning for the five new firefighters, bringing the department staffing back to 62 members.
The department was given a grant last year to hire three additional firefighters, plus two firefighting positions that were budgeted for this year.
Altoona Fire Chief Michael Tosano said the five new men will begin their training immediately and should be ready to run full time by April.
"They're going to be learning everything from very basic firefighting skills, to vehicle extrication skills, to some hazmat skills that they need, all the way through how to do search and rescues," Tosano said.
At the end of 2013, eight firefighters left the department, Tosano said. Despite adding the five new members, they are technically not down three employees because the current staffing levels meet the minimum requirements for the department.