Asbury Park Fire Chief Kevin Keddy asked the City Council this week to hire two firefightes to replace two expected retirees. He also requested approval to hire an additional three firefighters.
Mayor John Moor raised concerns that the two firefighters may choose not to retire giving the fire department an excess of employees.
Keddy said the department would hire the three new fire fighters with the help of a 2015 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant and noted that the grant process changes from year to year.
The grant, provides funding for new firefighters for three years. After three years, however, the city would be responsible for the firefighters’ entire salary going forward.
Keddy said according to fire official standards the city is below the number of recommended firefighters per shift, with nine stationed on each shift.
The recommendation is to have 12 per shift, which in reality leaves 11 because at least one firefighter is on vacation during each shift.
Keddy said if someone gets sick, that also leaves a void.
He added that the department now has nine firefighters per shift, but if the shift number falls below four the department will lose points toward its professional standards.
Moor said he would recommend hiring an additional three firefighters once the city is no longer receiving transitional aid from the state.
“If the overtime is not excessive, then it’s not needed at this time,” Moor said.
“Every year we get busier and busier, especially Memorial Day to Labor Day. It gets harder to answer calls (in a timely manner),” Keddy said.
“We will not have to hire three if two do not retire,” said Moor.
Keddy said he will investigate the possibility of being able to amend the grant if the two firefighters do not retire.
Keddy also said all new firefighters have a one year probation period.
The starting salary for a firefighter without certifications is $30,000 while it is $41,000 with certifications and EMT training.