Atlantic City Firefighters on Notice [AUDIO]
Just in time for the holidays, dozens of firefighters in Atlantic City are facing potential layoffs.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER grant, is set to expire next month, which would force the department to lay off about 50 workers starting on November 21.
"A reduced firefighting force could result in many problems, especially in Atlantic City, which is comprised of many high-rises," said Dominick Marino, President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey. "Many residents and visitors could be in jeopardy. When we go to a high-rise incident, we need 25 to 32 fire personnel on the initial response in order to properly go in and do what needs to be done, whether it be rescue, setting up command or evacuating. With a reduced number, some functions aren't going to happen."
What are the chances this could happen across the rest of the state?
"It depends on each town and how they manage their budgets. It's a budget issue," said Marino. "Anything is possible. The state has reduced money going to the towns and how local officials manage their money will greatly impact how firefighters and police officers will be maintained in those towns. Atlantic City was given a grant in 2011 when they laid off firefighters to bring back those firefighters. Evidently, in the last two years, Atlantic City hasn't done anything to ensure that they can maintain those firefighters."
The city has reapplied for the SAFER grant, but it has not yet been approved. The grant application deadline was delayed earlier this year because of the sequester.