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Layoff Threat a Worry for Camden, Nearby Towns

By George Mast  courierpostonline.com | Courier-Post

Union leaders have long said the approximately 220-member department was understaffed, leading to safety concerns and an increased reliance on help from departments outside the city. Fire officials couldn't be reached for comment Friday. 

Surrounding municipalities sent fire engines, ladders, rescue vehicles, staff and other equipment to help the Camden Fire Department battle blazes 383 times in 2009, about twice as many times as the previous year.

The increased use of mutual aid last year brought complaints from officials in neighboring towns such as Collingswood, Pennsauken and Gloucester City.

Pennsauken Mayor Rick Taylor said Friday he wasn't sure what kind of effect fire layoffs in Camden might have on his municipality. But he knows the township's mainly volunteer force couldn't handle Camden's fire calls.

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