The six were hired using a nationally competitive $1 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant.

Burlington Fire Department leaders are ushering six new faces from one training to the next this week. 

Soon, locals in need will have Chris Carlson, 32, Alex Place, 29, Garrett Johnson, 22, Nick Dolan, 39, Luke Griffis, 27, and MacIntyre Walters, 22, to thank when help arrives. 

The six were hired using a nationally competitive $1 million U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant. 

Their positions are funded for three years. By that time, turnover within the department should raise them up the totem pole enough they'll get to stick around through any needed cuts. Further funding for the positions will depend on future City Council budget decisions and Burlington's financial fate. 

But for now, the six are learning about the fire department's five different ambulances. Friday, they're driving through a yellow-coned obstacle course. 

Thursday afternoon, the group strapped Johnson, the only one without some prior fire department experience, into a stretcher to practice loading people onto an ambulance. They've already given Johnson a nickname: Beans. He begged not to have it in the paper as his fellow recruits laughed and demanded that it went in. 

Battalion Chief Erik Bullinger lead their Thursday training. 

"You guys have to communicate to make sure everything goes okay," Bullinger shouted from the back of the ambulance. They nodded their heads.

The men have different reasons for serving, of course, but Griffis summarized it well. 

"Every kid dreams of being a firefighter," Griffis said. "I'm just pursuing the dream."

The crews are happy to have the new faces around. Bullinger said it'll make work "a little less stressful on everyone."

With the six, the department will be staffing a third ambulance at all times. During the day, firefighters already run an ambulance out of the West Burlington Fire Station whenever possible. They'll continue that full time, only moving it to Burlington Public Works during the night. The West Burlington building doesn't have the overnight accommodations they need, Fire Chief Matt Trexel explained.

"Geographically, when there are only two ambulances out there, there are a lot of spots that aren't getting covered," Trexel said.

Looking to the future, Trexel hopes the funding sticks around to keep the positions. 

"I don't know how you can go back to just two ambulances then," Trexel said. "Calls are only going to go up."