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Johnson Bill to Help Unemployed Civilian Federal Firefighters Secure Work Gets Final Legislative OK

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) that would allow municipalities or fire districts to hire certain civilian federal firefighters who lost their jobs through no fault of their own has received final legislative approval and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“These are able and experienced firefighters who lost their jobs, not because they were incompetent, but because of workforce reductions or cuts,” said Johnson. “They should not be disadvantaged because of economic realities that were beyond their control. If these firefighters are qualified, then they should have the opportunity to work without these rules holding them back.”

The bill (A-2375) would permit a municipality or fire district to appoint a civilian federal firefighter who lost his position as the result of a reduction in force or the termination of their position at a federal military installation, even if the municipality has adopted the Civil Service rules. Under current law, a municipality may only hire a civilian federal firefighter, while ignoring Civil Service rules, if the military installation has been closed. This bill would extend this hiring preference to firefighters who are unemployed as a result a reduction in force or elimination of firefighter’s position.

Current law requires the Civil Service Commission to prepare and circulate to municipalities and fire districts a list of the civilian federal firefighters eligible for appointment to a local fire department.

The bill was approved 76-0 by the Assembly last month and 40-0 by the Senate in February.