The state certification indicates that the 30 candidates have passed the necessary tests meeting the minimum requirements to become fire fighters.
Lynch said from this list, he hopes to get the 16 fire fighters needed to help make up for retirements over the last few years and to fill in the ranks of the Fire Department's table of Organization.
Lynch said he hoped to begin hiring fire fighters by the end of January, which would then require the candidates to attend eight weeks of training at a fire academy. After this, the candidates would then get local assignments and undergo several weeks of local training.
At the moment, the 30 people approved by the state are undergoing standard background checks.
Fire fighters in Bayonne start about $34,000 a year and the hiring along with related expenses would cost the city about $650,000 for the first year. Some of this may fall under a federal Safe Cities grant.
Last June firefighters and their union representatives expressed concern about the declining numbers in the department, noting that fire houses had been closed because of the lack of manpower. Lynch said the hiring of 16 new fire fighters would help fill in the ranks depleted by retirements.
"This all depends on budget constraints," Lynch said. "We have approached the city and told them what our needs are. We will need the approval of the city council in order to move ahead."
Lynch said formal swearing in, issuing of fire badges and assignments could take place once the candidates return from training.
According to officials from Fire Union Local 11, firefighters have not been replaced since 1999, although more than 30 fire fighters have left.
During hearings held in June, Fire Director Patrick E. Boyle said closing of firehouses was not unusual when the complement of available firefighters did not meet the minimum requirements for that fire house operation. While the table of organization showed the department had 28 official vacancies, the department over the last year also showed two fire fighters as part of military operations in Iraq as well as other fire fighters with additional long term injuries or illnesses.
Many of these complaints were raised during protests over the city's change in the table of organization that allowed the city to hire "up to" the numbers in each position rather than using the table of organization as a minimum required number needed.
During questions last summer about shortages and the closing of firehouses, Lynch said the fire department has realigned its staff to meet current needs. This involved looking at cycles of activity in the city and providing protection to areas where there is the greatest need. For instance, areas near Constable Hook where there are numerous dangers because of the use of hazardous materials, the fire department provides additional protection. When an area's activity is reduced, he said, the department takes that into consideration also. The department also relies on mutual aide from other parts of Hudson County with whom Bayonne has agreements.
To help boost the ranks, the city agreed over the summer to seek new recruits, and the 30 names on the list are a result of this. Lynch said he hoped the budget would allow him to hire 16 new officers.
Contact Al Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org