A federal grant will allow the Sni Valley Fire Protection District to hire nine more firefighters.

The 36-month grant is from Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), a grant program funded through FEMA, and Sni Valley Chief Carl Scarborough said it will be critical to secure long-term funding in order to keep those nine positions, particularly with community growth and increased service demands.

Scarborough said the department has a Feb. 1, 2018, target start date for the new firefighters, and recruiting is in progress.

“Through the years Sni Valley has been very creative and innovative at accomplishing more with less,” Scarborough said in a release. “Most of the people we serve have no idea how thin we are stretched on a regular basis.

“These positions are critical to our ability to serve our citizens. We are excited to add the additional firefighters and are looking at all options to make sure we keep them.”

Sni Valley serves an area of 78 square miles that includes the city of Oak Grove and parts of Grain Valley in Eastern Jackson County, Bates City in Lafayette County and surrounding unincorporated areas.