DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - More firefighters and paramedics will be ready to handle your emergencies in Delray Beach.
18 new hires officially started Monday. Captain Kevin Saxton says that represents nearly 15 percent of the entire department's force.
Saxton says the fire department had 18 vacancies because many people had retired or left the station over the past two years.
The city didn't hire new firefighters over the same period because it was considering merging its department with Palm Beach County's. Those talks ended in November.
"We've always had the same level of service, we've had every position filled at every fire station, it just may have meant we had call in more people on overtime," Saxton explains.
Once the new 18 hires finish ten weeks of training, it will mean no firefighter will have to regularly work extra shifts. That will save the city money because it won't be paying an overtime rate.
Danny Defranceschi is one of the new hires starting this week. The Boca Raton native admits he's a little nervous. But he's spent the past 1.5 years as a lifeguard with Ocean Rescue in Delray Beach.
He says he's grateful he was chosen from the more than 200 people who applied and is looking forward to serving the community.
"It's not the the of job most people go to on a day to day basis. We have to be at our best when people are at their worst," Defranceschi explains.