As reported by pressofatlanticcity.com, Atlantic City’s 30 laid-off firefighters will return to work on April 4, 2011. There will be an orientation, which will begin the process to get them back in uniform, and filling positions that currently require either overtime or closing companies, Fire Chief Dennis Brooks said.
The rehires will be paid for by a $9.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grant provides money to paid and volunteer fire departments to help keep them at safe personnel levels. It provides money only to those who man equipment.
Atlantic City was awarded the grant two months ago, and the City Council unanimously approved it on March 9. Now, they have until May 5 to get everything into place so that none of the money is lost, Brooks said.
Atlantic City cut 30 firefighters and 40 police officers last year in an effort to trim millions of dollars from the budget. The grant will pay for the returning firefighters’ salaries for two years, along with allowing the city to hire 21 additional firefighters to fill jobs lost to attrition. The money also covers 10 promotions to fire captain.
Exactly how the new firefighters will be hired remains uncertain. There is a list to hire from for the new firefighters, which needs to be approved by the Department of Community Affairs because it is a civil service job. Brooks said he believes that approval has been received, but will know for sure in the immediate future. However, he did not know the status in getting the new fire captains, many who have been filling the position in an “acting” capacity.