Atlantic City firefighters were given their first official notices about 51 potential layoffs that could take place the week before Thanksgiving.
Christopher Emmell, President of Local 198 Fire Union, said, “We need manpower, that's what it comes down to, we need manpower."
But manpower is exactly what the Atlantic City Fire Department might be cutting at the end of November.
Chief Dennis Brooks of the Atlantic City Fire Department said, "It's not, may get laid off, we will be laying off 51 firefighters if we don't get this grant."
On Monday, Atlantic City firefighters received their first official layoff notices.
Emmell said, "They are not saying much, they are scared, you know what I mean? It's a lot like a yo-yo. Am I getting laid off? Am I not getting laid off? This is a joke. How is this department going to run with 51 less guys, you know? It's pretty bad."
The Atlantic City Fire Department's $9.7 million dollar SAFER grant, awarded in May of 2011, is set to expire next month - forcing the department to layoff the firefighters, 13 of whom were hired as recently as this past March.
The grant allowed Atlantic City to maintain a staff of 264 firefighters, but now, officials say the government shutdown has delayed the new grant application process.
Emmell said, "We’re waiting for the government to get back to work, then we can get, you know, our answers." Chief Brooks told NBC40, "We're currently waiting approval to spend the remaining funds, which is $1.3 million, but because of the government shutdown, we can't even get approval to do that."
Fire officials say with fewer firefighters on the street, it is critical to stress fire prevention. Emmell said, "Now more than ever, the fire prevention is going to have to step it up and really be on their game."
The Chief of the AC Fire Department says he remains confident about the grant because the city is in dire need of the funding in order to staff their full force.
Chief Brooks said, "I am confidant, I think we are going to get it - but you know, everything is a gamble, nothing is for sure until it's in your hand."
The layoffs are scheduled to take place on November 21st.
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