FREDERICK, Md. (DC News Now) — Frederick County officials are mapping out a multi-million dollar grant they say would increase the safety of firefighters and citizens.

The grant is a part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s S.A.F.E.R. program and its goal is to prevent what happened on August 11th of 2021 from happening again.

Beloved Battalion Chief Joshua Laird died in the line of duty in August of last year.

He was battling a large house fire in Ijamsville when he fell through the floor and suffered deadly injuries. There was an investigation into his death and the response to the fire.

“That day, Josh’s engine only had three personnel on it. We convened, and after action review panel of fire service experts from the region to review our response to that fire, and one of the recommendations in the after-action report was to increase our staffing in accordance with National Fire Protection Administration consensus standards to four person staffing,” said Frederick County Fire Chief, Tom Coe.

Frederick County Fire Chief Tom Coe says an $8.6 million grant will now help his department add staffing that could help prevent fatal fires from happening in the future.

The grant would fully fund the salary and benefits of 32 firefighters in Frederick County for 3 years.

In a recent press briefing, Sarah Laird, the widow of Battalion Chief Joshua Laird, talked about her husband’s commitment to serving Frederick County.

“Josh loved serving Frederick County citizens, and every one of these dollars will go not only to protecting firefighters and first responders but also to protecting the citizens are Frederick County,” said Laird.

County Executive Jan Gardner has also been an advocate for supporting the grant. She plans to commit a portion of Frederick County’s Federal American Rescue Plan Act Funds to include additional training and equipment for the Division of Fire and Rescue Services.

The County Council will now have to vote to accept the grant. If this is approved, the 32 positions will be hired in January of next year.

The grant is the largest one awarded to a Maryland fire service to date this year.