HACKENSACK, NJ — The City of Hackensack has hired five new firefighters thanks to a grant provided through the federal SAFER program, which is designed to help municipalities maintain adequate public safety staffing without overburdening local taxpayers. City officials worked closely with U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer to secure the grant, and Mayor John Labrosse and Representative Gottheimer are pledging to continue working together for the benefit of their constituents in the City of Hackensack. The two elected officials spoke after the City announced that it had been approved for a $1 million federal grant to hire five firefighters, including pay, benefits, and training that Rep. Gottheimer helped claw back from Washington to the city.
The names of the five newly hired firefighters are:
- Anthony S. Alexander
- Ruben A. Ceballos
- Anthony T. Colantino
- Corey C. Eyer
- Charles D. Redstone IV
“On behalf of the City of Hackensack I would like to welcome these new firefighters to our outstanding department which we believe is the very best in the state thanks to our dedicated men and women,” said Mayor John Labrosse. “I would like to thank Congressman Gottheimer for his assistance in securing this grant as well as the City Manager’s office for its work in this matter. Maintaining sufficient staffing in our police and fire departments is essential to keeping our city safe, but we must also always be mindful of the impact on taxpayers and this action strikes the right balance for our city.”
Mayor Labrosse and Rep. Gottheimer affirmed their mutual support and appreciation for the work each is doing for the residents of Hackensack. Bergen County Executive and volunteer firefighter Jim Tedesco also played a key role in securing this investment to keep first responders and families safe in Hackensack.
“Working with Bergen County Executive and volunteer firefighter Jim Tedesco, the Hackensack Mayor and City Council, the Hackensack Fire Department, and FEMA, we helped the City claw back more than $1 million federal to hire five new firefighters and cover their salaries, benefits, and training for three years. This critical investment will help protect our families and first responders, and save taxpayers money,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “I will always do everything I can to get the backs of our first responders and make sure the city has everything they need to keep Hackensack safe.”
The new recruits began attending the department’s rigorous fire academy last month to prepare them for their new roles. They will undergo a training program that will teach them fire suppression and rescue techniques through classroom instruction as well as practical hands-on experience. Upon graduation, the new firefighters will be prepared to serve the Hackensack community, and protect the lives and property of its residents.
The City Council ordered a comprehensive review of the Hackensack Fire Department in March 2022 as part of its ongoing efforts to improve public safety in the city. The report by risk management firm Lexipol states that the current staffing level of the Hackensack Fire Department exceeds National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards for response to structure fires in moderately sized residential dwellings. However, it did recommend increasing the number of on-duty firefighting staff in the event of a large-scale emergency in a high-rise structure, something these three new firefighters will help to address.
As one of the few paid fire departments in Bergen County, the Hackensack Fire Department maintains one of the fastest response times in the area. City officials have pledged their commitment to continue closely monitoring staffing levels as Hackensack continues to grow, to ensure the Department’s capabilities are sufficient. In addition, the City will be continuing to pursue shared services and cooperation with nearby municipalities, to enhance capabilities in a fiscally responsible manner.