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

The law (A-2031) permits 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.

“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.

“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.

Under former law, a firefighter who was laid off for reasons of the economy could be appointed to a new position with another municipality within 36 months of the termination without utilizing any Civil Service lists.

This new law – signed Tuesday – 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 40-0 by the Senate in May. It takes effect immediately.

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