Jan. 05--Atlantic City's Fire Department has begun spending an $8.7 million federal grant early in order to avoid laying off 51 firefighters.
Money from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant, awarded in 2011, ran out at the beginning of December. The city used remaining money in the overtime budget while awaiting word on a two-year extension grant.
That extension was approved, but it was not set to begin until March 13, said Deputy Fire Chief Vincent Granese, who has been handling the grant.
"I had the award amended and the new period of performance started as of Dec. 19, 2013," he said earlier this week.
That leaves a slight gap, which will be paid mostly by the overtime money, Granese said.
The new grant ends Dec. 19, 2015.
After that, "we will be looking to move in different directions to find avenues to be able to pick up the additional firefighters," Granese said.
He could not detail what those plans may be, as it has to be discussed with the new city administration.
New Mayor Don Guardian has said he would like to see a fund set up that would save money to pay those firefighters when the grant ends. He has insisted he does not want to see layoffs in public safety.
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