SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The San Jose Fire Department welcomed 33 new recruits Friday, one of its largest recruitment classes ever, fire officials said.

The new recruits were welcomed Friday at a special orientation, and will start an 18-week firefighter academy program on Monday, fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez said.

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They will graduate March 1, and formally join the department the following Monday.

The cost of the academy and the recruitment classes wages are being financed with a two-year $8.6-million federal grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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Gutierrez said the department hopes to keep the new firefighters on staff once the grant expires through a combination of attrition and retirement.

The San Jose Fire Department currently has around 650 employees, Gutierrez said.

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