By Cleve Bryan
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., (CBS) – Fifty-one firefighters are facing layoffs if the federal government doesn’t get back to work and process a grant for the Atlantic City Fire Department.
The firefighters who received notices this week about the possible layoffs were hired in January and May of 2013 under a federal SAFER grant obtained in 2011.
Chief Dennis Brooks says the department is trying to get more grant money but the federal government shutdown has the application process in limbo.
“We were really taken back and surprised that our grant possibilities and prospects were put on hold because the government shut down. We never thought about it,” says Brooks.
Brooks says two or three companies will be out of work and meeting the city’s public safety needs will be a challenge with nearly a quarter of his firefighters gone.
“We’re going to step up fire prevention because we’re going to need it more than ever,” says Brooks.
Local 198 President Chris Emmell says the firefighters who got notices are looking at their options to pick up new jobs. Unless the government re-opens and processes the grant, the 51 firefighters will be laid off just before Thanksgiving.
“It’s like a big waiting game putting everybody in a bad spot,” says Emmell, “It’s right before the holidays, it’s hard.”