The City of San Jose and the San Jose Fire Department are celebrating the rehiring of 22 firefighters who were laid of as a result of budget cuts in July of 2010. SAFER Grants, which were awarded from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, provided $15 million in funding.

As a result, the firefighters will report for duty today, August 26th for the first time in more than a year.

“In these trying budget times, I am extremely pleased to welcome these 22 firefighters back to our department and our community,” said Mayor Chuck Reed. “I’d like to thank the many different people who joined together to help us receive and accept this grant award.”

In celebration, the city brought together the team of people who worked to secure the funding for the city. The awarding of the SAFER Grant came about through the efforts of federal, state and local leaders along with support from the International Association of Firefighters, Local 230.

“The awarding of the SAFER grant will significantly improve the level of emergency services in San José by bringing back much needed firefighters and companies to the community,” noted Fire Chief William McDonald. “As a result, our on-duty staffing levels will increase, assisting us in better addressing the needs of our residents. Our Department is honored to have received the grant and I believe the residents of our city will greatly benefit.”

On the national level, the Fire Department’s grant application received support from U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as well as San Jose’s local congressional representatives, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-16) and Rep. Mike Honda (CA-15).

“I’m delighted that we were able to secure this absolutely essential funding from the federal government to keep firefighters on the job,” noted Rep. Zoe Lofgren. “Every day, all across our city, brave men and women rush into danger responding to calls for help. I’m humbled to have played a part in making sure those calls go answered and I’m immensely proud of the work that our first responders do in our community.”

“I am proud to have helped secure $15 million from the SAFER Grant to the San Jose Fire Department”, said Rep. Mike Honda.  “As a lifelong San Jose resident, I am reassured to know that my neighbors and I will be protected by adequate staffing at our fire stations by our City’s bravest. And as a Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will work to ensure that our fire departments continue to receive the federal funding necessary to keep all our residents safe.”

In addition, Elizabeth Harman and Catherine Patterson from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were instrumental in providing accommodations to previous grant rules that took into account the City’s current fiscal limitations. Gary Rogers who is Senior Policy Advisor from FEMA attended today’s ceremony on their behalf.

Also providing letters of support were State Senator Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), State Assembly Member Jim Beall Jr. (D-San José), and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The San José Fire department will host two additional academies in the next six month and train 27 additional firefighters recruited in July.