The Pinole Fire Department has received a $1.24 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, two U.S. Congressmen announced Thursday.

The money, awarded through the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Program, or SAFER, will be used to attain and maintain 24-hour staffing, increase the number of frontline firefighters, and hire and rehire firefighters who were laid-off due to local budget cuts, Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, said in a news release.

"This grant is a vital boost" for the department, Miller said in a news release. "First responders all over California have been hit especially hard by the recent economic downturn and I'm glad to see the federal government stepping in with critical financial resources to help carry out the vital mission of our local firefighters."

The department is expected to hire new firefighters and recruit and retain volunteers with the grant.

The SAFER program provides approximately $320 million in grants to fire departments and statewide or local volunteer firefighter support groups.

Rick Hurd covers public safety. Contact him in Richmond at 510-262-2728 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH.