The Jersey City Fire Department received a $6.87 million federal grant for the Jersey City Fire Department that will help replace or retain 49 firefighters who either previously retired or whose positions were slated for elimination due to municipal budget constraints. The department intends to hire 30 new firefighters.
According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program was one of two programs created by Congress to help address the significant staffing, equipment, training and health and safety needs of fire departments. SAFER provides funding to help pay the costs associated with hiring personnel to maintain safe staffing levels, while FIRE grants fund equipment, training, and other fire department needs.
“Nothing is more essential to keeping a community as safe as it can be as keeping firefighters on the job,” said U. S. Sen. Robert Menendez last week. “And not only will this funding create jobs and help protect our communities, it will also help maintain safe working conditions for our firefighters, who deserve nothing less than our best efforts to ensure they can perform their duties as safely and effectively as possible.”
“Nothing is more essential to keeping a community as safe as it can be as keeping firefighters on the job.” -- U. S. Sen. Robert Menendez
“Enhancing public safety has been the top priority of my administration since taking office, and we have been aggressively focused on pursuing federal funding, such as the SAFER grant, so we can hire additional firefighters," said Mayor Steven Fulop. "I want to thank Senator Menendez and Congressman Sires for advocating for Jersey City to receive this significant and important funding that will help us continue in our efforts to make Jersey City the safest mid-size city in America."
Jersey City received one of the highest grants at a time when the grant program has been cut back.
Although SAFER grants have been traditionally well-funded, congressional efforts to reduce the deficit have caused a reduction in funding for SAFER and other grants for the last two fiscal years. The weak economy has also led communities nationwide to reduce Fire Department staffing and cut back on training and equipment purchases.
In October, the Fulop Administration moved to structure the Fire Department into three battalions, which they believed would put more firefighters on the street.
The reorganization will result in additional fire captains being available on all four of the department's tours, reducing the need for overtime at the captain rank. Prior to this change, the Fire Department operated with 22 companies divided among four battalions
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.