Firefighters applaud Andy Delgado, back to camera, as he tells them to keep their hopes up as they prepare to turn in their gear after being laid off.
Laid off firefighters march along a street in protest on the way to turning in their gear.
Camden firefighters turn in their gear on Jan. 18 after being laid off.
Firefighters hug outside a firehouse in Camden after being laid off.
CAMDEN, N.J. --
Municipal layoffs affected about 335 city workers, representing one-sixth of the local government work force in Camden - already one of the nation's most impoverished and crime-ridden cities.
Layoffs struck hardest in the public safety departments, according to the Associated Press, where nearly half the police force and close to one-third of the city's firefighters were laid off.
"It's one of the worst days in the history of Camden," said Ken Chambers, president of the firefighters union, told the AP.
City officials blamed the cuts on unions, saying they have not been willing to make concessions. The mayor was reportedly willing to continue negotiations, to try to reach cost savings and bring back some of the laid-off workers.
The layoffs prompted fears of worsening conditions in Camden, the nation's second-most dangerous city based on 2009 data.
The Fire Department has already been relying on help from volunteer departments in neighboring towns, the AP reorted.