A tough economy has really made things difficult for the Reading Fire Department which has endured more than its share of cutbacks.

But Thursday the beleaguered department says it feels like it just won the lottery.

The U.S. government awarded the department millions of dollars and some say the money couldn't have come soon enough.

This is news many are celebrating.

The Reading Fire Department has been awarded a $4 million dollar grant -- a welcome surprise for a department that seems to have to do more and more with less and less.

The "SAFER" grant comes from the Department of Homeland Security.

"SAFER" stands for Staffing for Adequate Fire Emergency Response.

For the past couple of years, it hasn't been easy for the Reading Fire Department, which has endured layoffs and cutbacks stretching the department to the limit.

With it being the third busiest fire department in the state, it's easy to understand the concern.

"Truly, it's like buying a lottery ticket. We hit the lottery today, so it's how do you find ways to implement the grant," said Reading Fire Chief David Hollinger.

Hollinger says he will be working with the city to come up with a plan on how the money will be spent.

"Obviously, with the grant available now, we're going to have to have some plans with how we're going to implement and bring these firefighters into the fold, if you will," said Chief Hollinger.

Officials say the $4 million grant will also allow the department to increase efficiency.

"We're always looking for new ways to increase our efficiency," said Hollinger. "Keep the costs of our delivery down. But again, trying to make sure our citizens are safety, and well-protected by a well-staffed and well-trained work force."

Officials say this is a big victory for the fire department and they say the grant will last two years.