West Orange to Hire 10 New Firefighters
Monday, October 22, 2012 • 1:36pm
WEST ORANGE, NJ- Thanks to a $1,775,610.00 grant awarded by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) through their SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) initiative, West Orange will receive 10 new firefighters. The township applied for the grant, and with the support of Senators Lautenberg and Menendez, were awarded with the grant money on August 22.
However, the township, in concert with the Fire Department, had to investigate the pros and cons of accepting the grant, which covered salaries and benefits for two years. At last Tuesday night's Town Council meeting, Resolution 192-12, to accept the grant money, came up for a vote, and discussion ensued.
West Orange Fire Chief Peter Smeraldo spoke to the efficacy of accepting the grant. He noted that Alicia Skinner wrote the grant on their behalf, and that in a township of 46,000 residents they were always busy. A peer panel at FEMA approved the grant for West Orange. The WOFD currently has 78 members, down from previous years. Within the next two years, 18, and possibly 20, retirements are expected. 12 of those are in supervisory positions. Although a $75,000 cost would be incurred by the township for training and equipment (typically training runs 14-15 weeks), Chief Smeraldo said that now would be the ideal time to train the new recruits because they would have two years of experience in place by the time the retirements became effective. Except for the 75K cost, no other costs to the township, whether in matching funds or other legal requirements, were demanded by the grant. The training is expected to go into effect within 90 days of grant acceptance.
After discussion, the Town Council unanimously voted to accept the grant, and Resolution 192-12 was passed.