A $1.5 million federal grant will pay for six new Monterey firefighters, officials said Friday.

"We were very excited when we received the news," Monterey Fire Chief Andrew Miller said. "It's a great opportunity to help offset some staffing (reductions) we have had."

Two years ago, the city trimmed six firefighter positions from its budget and the Department of Homeland Security grant will enable the department to refill the positions.

The grant will provide all of the money to cover base salaries and benefits for six firefighters for two years.

The added personnel will increase daily staffing and reduce overtime costs in a shared fire protection system that covers Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel, a city news release said.

The Monterey department also serves Sand City, the Presidio of Monterey, the Naval Postgraduate School and La Mesa Village.

"Our regional approach to providing fire services with our partners helped us to successfully qualify for this grant award," Miller said in a prepared statement.

The Monterey department has 63 sworn firefighter positions, which will jump to 69 with the new posts.

The department will accept online-only applications from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 28 at monterey.org/hr. Candidates who meet minimum requirements will be required to submit copies of all certifications Feb. 1 at the Monterey Conference Center.

New firefighters, without previous experience under the state Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), will be the first hired under the city's new two-tiered retirement system designed to reduce pension costs.

The first-tier formula now allows firefighters to retire at 50 with 3 percent of their highest annual salary for each year worked. The second-tier formula is 2 percent at 50, or 2.7 percent at 55. Pension amounts are based on the average of an employee's three highest annual salaries in consecutive years.

"I'm real excited to provide jobs to locals who may have graduated" from the fire academy at Monterey Peninsula College, Miller said.

Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or lparsons@montereyherald.com.