FORNEY - When the April tornadoes ripped through Forney last year, all fire personnel responded.

If another storm rolls through this spring, the Forney Fire Department will likely be able to react faster after the city was awarded more than half a million dollars from the federal government to staff up their department.

There was widespread damage when the tornado hit.

We had approximately a four-mile path from the first touchdown until the last part of the damage said Forney Fire Chief Rick Townsend.

The tornado created $9 million dollars of damage to 149 homes.

We are real fortunate to get this grant. said Forney Mayor Darren Rozelle.

The fire department will soon have a half dozen new firefighters at no cost to the city.

The department was awarded a $700,000 grant from the federal emergency management agency. Forney is one of only four cities in Texas to receive the award.

The grant will pay salaries and benefits for the six firefighters for two years. That added staff is needed in a town that's experienced growth spurt in recent years.

It became necessary because of the growth we experienced in Forney," Rozelle said. "In the past decade we've grown 160 percent.

New residential and business development has put an added strain on a department that's seen its emergency response nearly triple in five years.

It will actually let us put another unit in service with this manpower, said Forney Fire Marshal John Holcomb.

And the city is already making plans to ensure those firefighters will stay when the grant runs out.

As our economy grows, as our tax base grows, then we will be able to absorb that cost when it comes to year three and the grant is no longer available," Rozelle said.

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