Home>Local>Bergen>Gottheimer gets feds to pick up tab for 12 full-time firefighters, but Hackensack says no

Rep. Josh Gottheimer greats Hackensack firefighters in November 2022.

Gottheimer gets feds to pick up tab for 12 full-time firefighters, but Hackensack says no

Hackensack projects 20 retirements over next three years

By David Wildstein, November 19 2022 4:34 pm

Hackensack has a chance to get the federal government to pay for a dozen new firefighters through a grant secured by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), but the city has not yet approved the grant that would pay the first three years of salaries and benefits and faces a deadline of today to do so. 

Despite Gottheimer’s clawback of roughly $2.4 million in a grant under the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act — and the anticipated retirement of about 20 firefighters by 2025, the city council is prepared to reject the funds, Gottheimer said. 

“The Fire Department has literally said they need to hire more firefighters to deal with upcoming retirements,” stated Gottheimer.  “God forbid anything happens to our firefighters or families because of the Council’s misguided decision to turn down recommended increases in the Hackensack force.”

Local firefighters, union representatives from Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) and Hackensack IAFF Locals 2081 and 3172, and Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco joined Gottheimer earlier this week to urge the city council to accept the grant.

“It is very concerning that the Hackensack City Council is ignoring the recommendations of public safety experts and the Hackensack Fire Department,” said Gottheimer, who was easily re-elected to a fourth term in Congress last week with a landslide margin in Hackensack.

In his statement, Gottheimer seemed perplexed that the Hackensack governing body would turn down federal funding that would save taxpayers on their property taxe bills.

“I will always fight for North Jersey and our first responders, and will do everything I can to support any revised grant applications, he said. “Rejecting this secured grant could result in nothing for Hackensack families.”

Mayor John Labrosse did not immediately respond to a 2:45 PM call seeking comment.  

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