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Federal grant could mean more firefighters for Orange County

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County could soon hire dozens more firefighters thanks to a multimillion dollar federal grant.

The hiring comes after dozens of firefighters quit or were cut last year.

"It's definitely a benefit to the county. It's a benefit to the department in general. And it's a benefit to our current employees who have had a higher increase in their workload," said Orange County Professional Firefighters Union President Andre Perez.

The federal government just gave the county more than $6.5 million to pay for 45 new firefighting positions.

Perez told Channel 9's Ryan Hughes that the union played an integral role in securing the money after so many firefighters left the department.

"When we lost the 45 positions to budgetary cuts several years ago we were trying to come up with a way to regain those positions. We saw an opportunity, and that's what we did," said Perez.

"If my tax money is going to go to anything, then I would prefer for it to go to more firefighters, more police, more things that's going to help people out. I have no problem with that whatsoever," said Orange County resident Deron Dillon.

"Why so much money for that?" Orange County resident Carlos Renta asked.

"Do you think it's too much?" Hughes asked Renta.

"Yeah, I think it's too much," said Renta.

An entry-level firefighter in Orange County makes around $39,000 a year.

The grant money will pay for training, salaries, benefits and other costs for the new firefighters.

Orange County commissioners must give the federal grant the green light.

The Orange County Fire Chief is expected to discuss the grant at the Orange County Commission meeting Tuesday.