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(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly members Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) and Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) to help laid off firefighters is advancing in the Senate.

The bill (A-2031) would permit municipal fire departments to hire a laid off firefighter without utilizing a Civil Service list provided, in part, that the termination occurred within 60 months before appointment with the new fire department.

“This is, quite simply, the right thing to do,” Coutinho said. “In this economy, anything we can do to provide jobs to those who protect our health and safety – like firefighters – is the right and moral approach.”

“Giving towns the authority to hire qualified firefighters without having to go through bureaucratic hurdles is good for the scores of firefighters who have been laid-off in this recession but still want to work protecting public safety,” Caputo said.

“Firefighters who have devoted themselves to protecting our safety deserve every option we can give them if they’ve been laid-off amid this economy,” Johnson said.

Under current law, a firefighter who was laid off for reasons of the economy may be appointed to a new position with another municipality within 36 months of the termination without utilizing any Civil Service lists. This bill extends that time period to 60 months to be consistent with the current reemployment policy for laid off police officers.

The bill was approved 76-0 by the Assembly in February and was recently advanced by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

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