RALEIGH, N.C. — Kidde Aerospace & Defense, a manufacturer of fire protection and suppression systems for aircraft and vehicles, is expanding its operation in Wilson, N.C.

The company said Thursday that it would add 131 jobs and invest $3.4 million in its plant over the next three years.

Kidde received a $150,000 One North Carolina Fund grant as part of an incentive package from Governor Mike Easley’s office. One North Carolina Fund grants also require a local match.

Kidde’s headquarters are in Wilson. It has operations in California as well as England, France, Germany and Australia. It is a United Technologies Corporation company.

Several personnel have already been hired, according to Wendy Whitley, a human resources assistant for the firm. “We’ve already hired almost 100 people,” she told The Wilson Daily Times. “We’re hiring engineers and positions like that.”

The expansion will include a production line for fire extinguishers designed for military vehicles as well as a “Center for Excellence” for a design and engineering team.

Average wages for the new jobs will be $42,000 per year plus benefits, according to the governor’s office.

Also working with the governor’s office on the project were the N.C. Department of Commerce, Wilson County, the City of Wilson, Wilson Technical Community College and Wilson on the Move.

Kidde Aerospace: www.kiddeaerospace.com