The top-rated Baton Rouge Fire Department will hold an academy to hire 35 new firefighters, Mayor-President Kip Holden and Fire Chief Ed Smith announced Wednesday morning.

It will be the first academy for the department since February 2009 and will bring the total number of firefighters on staff to about 570.

After the new recruits are hired, there will still be 61 vacancies.

Funding to pay for the new firefighters will come from about $1.1 million from the city-parish general fund, and $343,000 from the Fire Enhancement Fund which comes from an existing millage collected by the fire department.

Holden said the general fund money comes from a savings earned from having more vacancies of the department than projected.

The 22-week academy will begin in November, Smith said.

Holden said the city-parish is also pursuing a federal grant that could pay for a second academy next year to hire 40 more firefighters.