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Grant adds firefighter jobs

May 31, 2012

When Kurt Dillon got the news two years ago that he would be laid off after six years with the Gloucester City Fire Department, he was devastated.

Sitting inside the fire hall Wednesday Dillon was in good spirits because he can now call the station home again.

This is all thanks to a $600,000 federal grant that will provide funding not only for Dillon’s position but two others for the department. The grant will be spread over two years.

“After being laid off you run the gauntlet of emotions,” said Dillon. “But you work through the hard times and right now I can’t wait to get suited up and fight fires because that is what I love to do.”

The funding for the three positions was announced by U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez last week and comes from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response program, which assists both professional and volunteer fire departments.

Fire Chief Brian Hagan said in 2010 eight layoffs were handed down due to budgetary constraints, but through the years they were able to bring three back and now with the grant they are bringing back an additional three.

“Morale has been up in the station,” said Hagan. “When you lose a bunch of guys like we did in 2010 it can put a strain on the men, but these additional fire fighters is just the boast we needed.”

Battalion Chief George Huston said the Gloucester City Fire Department can use the help as they serve approximately 11,000 residents in a city that is roughly three square miles.

“These three employees will help tremendously with how the department functions and how quickly we can respond to a fire emergency,” said Huston.

Hagan said they hope to have the three employees hired by mid-June, but Dillon was ready to go Wednesday.

“When someone thanks you for putting a fire out at their home you know it’s sincere,” said Dillon. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world knowing I can help the people of this city.”

View the original article at the Courier Post.