Austin (KXAN) - For decades the Austin Fire Department has not met national standards when it comes to staffing. But a $5 million dollar grant from FEMA is changing that.
Friday, AFD added 47 new firefighters to the force. Thirty-six of those positions were created through the grant.
After 28 weeks of intense training, 47 cadets are now Austin firefighters.
"My adrenaline is just going to be through the roof," said Liao, one of the new firefighters. "This has been a dream of mine for a long time."
But the ceremony and rounds of applause were also celebrating a milestone at the Austin Fire Department.
"We tout ourselves as the best city for this or the best department for that but we are lacking in our fire department staffing," said Austin City Council Member and former AFD firefighter Mark Martinez.
For the first time ever, AFD is now staffed according to national standards. It is a goal that's taken years to reach. All but 11 of the new cadets are filling newly created positions.
The standard set by The National Fire Protection Association recommends four firefighters per truck.
In 2012, AFD was the recipient of $5.1 million from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant.
Before the grant, at least five of Austin's fire stations had trucks with only two or three men on them to answer emergency calls. The department said those previous numbers put both Austinites and firefighters at risk.
"So we are much more efficient we can make our standard responses knowing that we don't have to account for some units that might have two or three staffers," said AFD Battalion Chief Thayer Smith.
With the new cadets, Austin Fire Department now boasts 1,119 firefighters on the force.
Cold temperatures forecast for Saturday morning have prompted Georgetown officials to cancel the parade associated with the annual Christmas Stroll. The Stroll, however, will go on.
A Lago Vista couple faces child endangerment charges after authorities found their home covered in feces and garbage.
The Austin Humane Society reopened to the public Friday after closing its doors for six weeks.
The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
A man is charged with murder in the shooting death Wednesday of a woman at a North Austin auto repair shop, police said Friday.
The man who fell into a flood control channel and drowned last month was identified Friday as 57-year-old Ronald M. Allen.