Township’s firefighting grant may help water rescuers
Robbinsville seeking guidance on how $700G affects new cap
ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. – Mayor Dave Fried announced today that he hopes a $700,604 federal grant to fund firefighting positions may allow the Township to hire two members of Trenton’s Rescue 1, who were served with layoff notices right after diving into an icy Town Center lake on December 16.
Mayor Fried confirmed that Robbinsville learned December 24 that it had received funding for four positions for up to two years, under the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program, which is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
However, Fried said the Township has been consulting with the Department of Community Affairs on how the grant funding affects the new 2 percent cap law on municipalities, which goes into effect tomorrow. The mayor said before anyone is hired under the grant, he must gain assurances from the state that Robbinsville can increase the number of firefighters without cutting other positions. “It’s my hope that we can use this grant to increase our firefighting resources at no additional cost to the taxpayers, and with no service cuts elsewhere,” Fried said.
Mayor Fried said he had contacted the City of Trenton after reading that two members of the water rescue team that responded to the Town Center incident had gone back to their firehouse and received layoff notices. Rescue 1 augmented Robbinsville’s firefighters at the scene, in which an 85-year-old man suffered an apparent stroke and drove into the icy water behind the West Lake Office Building. Rescue 1 pulled the man from the water and later, his vehicle. The man was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
“Budget cuts that have affected the entire Township have also resulted in a smaller force at the Division of Fire,” Mayor Fried said. “This grant would allow Robbinsville to restore some positions and increase public safety in the Township. Thankfully, those who were let go in prior downsizings have found jobs. So, after reading about the possible layoffs at Rescue 1, I wanted to offer any openings to them first.”
Fried credited Capt. Daniel Shaffener of the Division of Fire for writing Robbinsville’s grant application. “Captain Shaffener has offered to assist the City of Trenton with its application, which is still being reviewed. It’s our hope that Robbinsville can help save more firefighting jobs in the region.”
Mayor Fried also thanked U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-Hamilton, and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J., for their assistance in helping Robbinsville receive the $700,604 award.