NEWS, SPORTS, COMMENTARY, POLITICS for Gloucester City and the Surrounding Areas of South Jersey and Philadelphia

Joseph J. Hopkins Jr., of Gloucester City Succumbs at age 57

Firefighters Have No Answers for $1.3 Million Budget Deficit


By Bill Cleary

Signs reading We Support Our Gloucester City Firefighters & EMT’s have been popping up throughout the city ever since the announcement that the fulltime fire department was going to be cut because of a $1.3 million budget deficit. Pink slips were handed out to 15 employees on May 14, eight of which were firefighters. Besides the layoffs two fire department supervisors are retiring and wont be replaced according to City Administrator Jack Lipsett.

The fire department is the largest in the City with 33 employees, 10 of which are

supervisors. Councilman Nick Marchese, finance chairman said in recent interviews, “The total cost for running the department is an estimated $4 million, salaries are approximately $2,565,003. Health benefits for those employees and retirees along with other costs amounts to an estimated $1.5 million”.

Mayor Bill James said the union representing the firefighters was asked three years ago when their contact expired to forego any pay raises or else there would be layoffs. James said if they had agreed to that request firemen wouldn’t be facing layoffs now.

The introduction on the website advertised on the signs reads, The firefighters and fire

officers of the Gloucester City Fire Department would like to thank you for taking the time to visiting are website. As this is a new website made by the firefighters of the city please bear with us as we continue to improve it. We hope to not only provide you with information about your fire department but factual information about what the mayor and council are doing to cut your fire and EMS services. This website will state nothing, but facts obtained by OPRA (Open Public Records Act).  None of what you see on this page is a padded number, just the facts.

Who is the responsible for the statements on the website? Is it the president of the union, Jeff Sanderson? Why is the name of the person or persons making the accusations not publicize. 

Because of the design of the website one could be misled to think this site is sponsored by the City. The fact that photos of the King Street Firehouse and City fire engines are posted on the site adds to that confusion. The contact link is no help. It reads, If you have any questions please feel free to contact Gloucester City Fire Chief Hagan (856) 456-2652 Mayor Bill James (856) 229-2043. While this site is being constructed you may contact us at the firehouse by telephone. One North King Street, Gloucester City, (856) 456-0231. Thank you for your support. GCFF.

I was under the impression that during the time firefighters and Chief Hagan were at the King Street Fire House they were working. And that union business was not to be conducted on the City phone line (456-0231) nor was it to be conducted at the Fire House.

I hope the person or organization responsible for this website will step forward and put their name and phone number as contact people. The union’s logo, which is missing from the signs, should appear on this website so there is no confusion.

If you believe so strongly in your cause why are you afraid to put your name to your beliefs?

Residents too would like to know how many calls you answer each day in the City of Gloucester City. Forget mutual aid, traffic accidents and assisting EMT's.  If you do decide to come forward please include that missing information also. 

One further thought, I think all firefighters are amazing people. I am in awe at what they do for a living; to run into a burning building when others are running out of it. They are amazing.

And if the money can be found to keep all 33 firemen, plus save the jobs of the seven other city employees that would be great. But no one seems to have the answer on how to make up for a $1.3 million city budget deficit without raising taxes. And after reading the information on the Gloucester City Firefighters “union website” neither does the phantom author.

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