CAMDEN — A federal grant totaling more than $5 million will help the city's fire department make new hires — something it hasn't done in a decade.

The $5,250,424 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant for the Camden Fire Department will allow the department to hire 27 full-time firefighters with salary and benefits across the city's nine fire companies.

"This federal grant will help the Camden Fire Department hire needed personneland provide the highest level of service to the community when emergencies arise," Rep. Donald Norcross said in news a release announcing the federal award. "With new businesses continuing to choose Camden and hire local residents, this funding is more welcome news for the city's turnaround."

The award was jointly announced by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker. The SAFER grant is administered by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency and can be used to retain, recruit and hire full-time firefighters.

According to Camden Fire Department Chief Michael Harper, the 27 new firefighters will provide the Camden Fire Department with a full staff of 196 career firefighters.

"These new firefighters will be a wonderful addition to our department. We haven't hired any new firefighters since 2006 — for 10 years. It's always nice to have a breath of fresh air with new energy from new firefighters who are eager to serve the City of Camden," said Harper.

Camden Mayor Dana Redd echoed Harper, saying, "Keeping our families safe will always be a top priority for me and the addition of new firefighters will help build on the positive public safety momentum and gains we have made in the city."

(original article)