The city added 30 new firefighters funded through a federal grant during a ceremony on Monday morning at the McBride Avenue firehouse.
The diverse group included the city’s first Palestinian-American firefighter Amer Alnatur, according to mayor Jose “Joey” Torres.
“When everybody else is running away from a burning building they are running in,” said Torres to the class which finished 16 week of training.
Torres thanked Rep. Bill Pascrell for securing the $7.5 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant that allowed the city to hire the new firefighters.
The salaries for each of the new firefighters is roughly $32,000, said fire chief Michael Postorino.
“Good luck. It’s a tough job,” the congressman told the new firefighters.
“You chose a profession that is selfless,” remarked senator Robert Menendez.
“They represent Paterson, its diversity and inclusion,” said council president William McKoy observing the different color faces.
Postorino said this class is likely the most diverse the city has ever welcomed.
“We finally did it,” said Alnatur. He said he was surprised that he was the first Palestinian-American to join the city’s fire department. The chief said there have been Arab-Americans at the fire department, but this is the first time a Palestinian-American is part of the force.
The chief said the city’s fire department is the busiest in the state receiving more than 48,000 calls for service every year. “We’re being asked to do more which requires more,” he said.
Pascrell’s grant will provide for the salaries of 49 firefighters over a two-year period, according to officials. The other 19 will undergo training and join the fire department at some point in the future, said officials.
The firefighters were sworn in by the mayor.