Atlantic City firefighters paid under grant will need to reapply for jobs

Nearly 80 Atlantic City firefighters may have to reapply for their jobs in September, when the federal grant that pays them runs out.
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant currently pays the salaries for 79 of the city’s 202 firefighters, Fire Chief Scott Evans said.
But when the grant runs out Sept. 21, those jobs will be terminated, according to a notice sent by Timothy Cunningham, director of the state Division of Community Affairs, which oversees the city.
In the past, the city has been able to keep the grant going. But Cunningham indicates that’s no longer an option.
“The City intends to rehire a limited number of former SAFER grant funded firefighters,” Cunningham wrote in the July 5 memorandum. “In connection with such hiring, the City will conduct an interview process. Information regarding the interview process will be provided at a later date through the ACFD.”
But there seems to be little information being passed on to the firefighters about what will happen, or how many will keep their jobs.
Part of that is due to an ongoing court battle between the state and fire union.
Superior Court Judge Julio Mendez previously ordered a stay of any layoffs that would have cut the department significantly.
But it’s not clear how the federally funded positions play into that since they are not currently part of the city’s budget.
“They’re still negotiating with the state,” said Evans, who referred questions to the state and city.
City Council President Marty Small said he reached out to Cunningham, but could get no definitive numbers.
“We know the potential risk of our public safety when the 2014 SAFER grant expires,” he says. “We must explore all options with various levels of government to have our Fire Department at the proper staffing levels that will be conducive for great public safety.”