A historic moment
City swears in new class of firefighters
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Jul 08, 2018 | 22165 views | 0 0 comments | 230 230 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FIREFIGHTERS
BUILDING UP THE DEPARTMENT – The Jersey City Fire Department isn’t just increasing in numbers, but also in diversity. Minorities and women are filling up the ranks thanks to new hiring
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Calling it an investment in the future, Mayor Steven Fulop celebrated the swearing in of 37 new firefighters at a ceremony in City Hall on June 22.

“This is the eighth class we’ve sworn in since we took office in 2013,” he said. “The fire department is now the largest it has been in more than 10 years, at 604 firefighters.”

The latest class includes two women.

This investment in public safety, Fulop said, is occurring without raising taxes.

Helping to bolster the ranks of first responders to medical emergencies as well, all new firefighters are also trained as emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

Jersey City has 26 companies open for daily firefighting duties, but because of lower manpower in the past, the number sometimes fell below the optimal level when crew members called in sick, took vacations, and were absent for other reasons. At those times, the department has been under pressure to close down units. The increased number of new firefighters should prevent this.

Those sworn in on June 22 included Eric Bauer, Michael Sheehan, Dylan Hartmann, Robert Deppe, David Chase, Christopher Wall, Joseph Kelly, Steven Petrucelli, Nicholas Laletta, Douglas Drag, Bearthur Johnson, Peter Gonzalez, Tarik Walker, John Carmona, Mario Barrera, Jason DeJesus, Thomas Kelly, Roy Williams, Raymond Nickerson, Matthew Mahoney, Juan Garcia, Angelica Athens, Kagan O’Callahan, Richmond O’Brien, Edwin Blanco, Mark Siocha, Dennis Oberg, Jose Rivera, Jordan Lang, Christopher Bolger, John Scafidi, Raul Perez, Robert Pilger, Joseph Giordano, Andrew DeFillipo, Lizandra Vega, and Michael Reed.

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“The fire department is now the largest it has been in more than ten years, at 604 firefighters.” – Mayor Steven Fulop

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A new commitment

Despite its diversity, Jersey City did not swear in its first African-American woman firefighter until 2014, part of a new commitment by the city to have the city’s various departments reflect the population they serve. Over the last four years, the fire department has also seen the hiring of Hispanic, African-American and Asian firefighters. Three years ago, the fire department swore in their first two female Hispanic firefighters, too.

To help offset the cost of expanding the department, the city has spent nearly $7 million of a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. This grant also part for some of the cost of EMT training.

To attract minority candidates, the city conducted a diversity recruitment drive three years ago which resulted in more than 2,000 applications for people seeking to take the firefighter exam. The city also offered free test prep courses to ensure that all residents had the best opportunity at performing well on the exam.

New police recruits bring department up to historic levels

The city has accepted 28 new recruits for the police academy, 80 percent of whom are minorities or female.

Mayor Steven M. Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea made the announcement last week, saying the latest class of Jersey City Police Department recruits entering the John H. Stamler Police Academy will be minorities, comprising three-quarters of the class.

Fulop said this is part of an effort to provide recruitment that reflects the country’s most diverse city.

“Five years ago, we made public safety a top priority, and today we continue to see results, expanding this police department to historic personnel levels, while simultaneously seeing remarkable declines in all violent crime categories in 2018,” said Fulop. “Today, we’ve not only exceeded our goal to grow the police department to over 950 officers, but we’ve also enhanced our efforts to diversify the department citywide. These 28 new recruits reflect that.”

The new recruit class is comprised of 40 percent Hispanic heritage, 20 percent African-American, and another 20 percent include various minorities representing Jersey City’s population.

The five females entering the academy represent 18 percent of the class.

This latest class brings the total number of police officers hired to over 400 since Fulop took office.

The recruits start their training in July.

“This summer, with the addition of new officers, we’ve been able to deploy more walking posts in each district to heighten our presence in every neighborhood,” said Shea. “We’re also focusing on enhancing our community relations efforts, encouraging greater police interactions with the community through new training and innovative programs specifically targeting Jersey City youth.”

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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