Additional funding has allowed the Kern County Fire Department to assign nine firefighters to Truck 55, a 100-foot ladder truck, at Tejon Ranch Fire Station 55.

On Tuesday, the nine firefighters will join the current 12 at the station, according to Corey Wilford, a department spokesman.

"We will be able to respond faster to emergencies that happen, instead of waiting 30 minutes for the closest ladder truck to arrive at Tejon," he said.

He later added, "And most importantly we will have more manpower to help those in need."

Until last week, Fire Station 55 was staffed with Engine 55 and Patrol 55, which is a smaller firefighting piece of equipment used for grass and wild land fires. Last year the station, with both pieces of equipment, ran 729 responses to 601 incidents, according to Wilford.

The funding for the additional staffing came from the federal Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response grant, which was created to keep staff in the fire department in the county or to bring additional staff to stations.

While the funding allowed for the nine firefighters to be placed in the Tejon station, an additional 27 firefighters will be placed in nine other stations throughout the county.

The department as a whole was awarded the money, and some went to the Tejon staffing.

Public records found on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website show KCFD was awarded $7,028,700 on July 6 to be used for hiring new firefighters.

These new firefighters will now provide enough staff to run Truck 55.

Truck 55 was presented to the county fire department in 2004 by IKEA and Tejon Ranch to strengthen the areas the station serves.

"With the amount of activity that goes on in this location by the Grapevine, which sees 100,000-plus travelers a day, it was important for us to provide this ideal location with proper assistance," said Barry Zoeller, vice president of corporate communications and marketing at Tejon Ranch.

Truck 55 is a 515 horsepower Pierce Arrow XT that can hold 300 gallons of water, a 1,500-gallon-per-minute water pump and a 100-foot aerial ladder.

The Tejon Ranch fire station opened June 29, 2006 and cost $3 million, Zoeller said. Before that, Station 55 was in Mettler, about four to five miles to north of Tejon.