The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded the Worcester Fire Department nearly $15 million to boost firefighter staffing and purchase new equipment.

Worcester fire officials plan to hire 60 new firefighters using a $14.1 million grant from FEMA. A separate $806,000 FEMA grant will help the fire department pay for breathing apparatuses, personal radios and other gear for new recruits.

“This funding from FEMA will assist our department in accomplishing its mission to protect the lives and property of the community by increasing daily staffing for a safer and more effective fire and emergency response,” acting Fire Chief Martin Dyer said in a statement.

Worcester city officials earlier this year committed to increasing personnel levels to meet growing demand for fire response as Worcester’s population increases. The city's fire department currently has about 400 firefighters on staff.

Fire officials say they plan to start using the grant money when 30 new firefighters start the job as soon as Oct. 3. The department will hire another 30 next year. The FEMA money will help the department pay the new recruits' salaries for three years.

The hiring plans follow a 2021 independent report recommending staffing increases among other changes to help the department avoid line-of-duty deaths. Nine Worcester firefighters have died in fires since 1999, including six that year.

The majority of the department’s fire response involves triple-deckers, which officials say are especially vulnerable to blazes due to their age and construction style. Although three-deckers are just about 12% of Worcester’s housing stock, according to city property records, the buildings make up about 50% of the firefighters’ response to structure fires.

Worcester acting Deputy Fire Chief Adam Roche told GBH News the new staffing levels will help the fire department attack three-decker fires more effectively.

“The efficiency of getting water on the fire as fast as possible — it’ll definitely help us operate that way,” he said.

FEMA awards grants annually to fire departments for staffing and equipment. Fire departments in Brockton, Barnstable and Westminster are among other Massachusetts communities receiving FEMA money this year.