PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After a years-long staffing crisis, Portland Fire and Rescue just received a $2.1 million federal grant to hire additional firefighters.

The department has been attempting to fully staff Fire Station 23 near SE 13th and Powell since it was closed down in 2010 — resources were moved to Fireboat Station 21 on the Willamette River.

Fire Union President Isaac McLennan says, with Station 23 closed for more than a decade, firefighters from stations throughout Portland were required to cover the station’s fire management area.

“We want to be here to serve the community, but we’re also susceptible to this staffing crisis,” he said.

A map showing the coverage area for Station 23. (Portland Fire & Rescue)

According to Fire Chief Sara Boone, between 2010 and 2017, the call volume in the area increased by 35%, from 983 calls in 2010 to 1,323 calls in 2017.

In response, the City of Portland brought two firefighters back to the vacant station, but that’s not even enough people to operate a fire engine.

“A two-person responder is just not adequate. Since 2017, when it became a two-person station, we have been focused on making sure that fire station gets a four-person staff company,” McLennan said.

Now, money from the federal grant will allow Portland Fire to hire six additional firefighters and fully staff Station 23 for the next three years.

“So this grant funding it opens up, turns the lights on, gets four people back in that station and gives that community the safety they deserve,” McLennan said.

Despite the grant, Portland Fire is still enduring a staffing crisis. The union estimates that they’re still down 29 firefighters.

To make up for the shortages, firefighters tell KOIN 6 that the city is forcing mandatory overtime upwards of 80-100 hours a week, shuffling around resources and spreading their abilities thin. However, Boone has indicated she’s going to make new budget proposals to the city council next month.