Newark fire union president disputes mayor’s claim firefighters are adequately trained

The union president is questioning why there were only nine new recruits when the department needs about 50 more.

Matt Trapani and Amanda Lee

Jul 26, 2023, 12:18 PM

Updated 322 days ago

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Three weeks after two Newark firefighters died in the line of duty, the Newark Fire Officers Union says the department lacks training and staffing. The accusations come as nine new recruits were welcomed in a ceremony.
Newark’s mayor and fire chief have been saying that the department was adequately staffed during the cargo ship fire and that fire crews received extensive training afterward. Fire officials say they are looking to fill 59 vacancies this year.
But union officials are telling a different story.
"I’m disheartened by them saying that we were extensively trained. The training only went on for an hour and a half. It was a tabletop exercise that basically just gave awareness,” says Anthony Tarantino, president of the Newark Fire Officers Union. “It would be refreshing if the city and the fire department would admit that our training is deficient and that we could learn from this and move forward and put together a true training academy."
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Fire Chief Rufus Jackson were asked if they could provide the training records for the Newark Fire Division and standard operating procedures for fighting ship fires. The mayor told News 12 New Jersey to put in a formal request for them to be shared.
Tarantino says that these documents do not exist. He is also questioning why there were only nine new recruits when the department needs about 50 more. He says there were plenty of candidates from which to choose.
The union president says that he believes Baraka truly wants to do the right thing and offer more training, but he says that Jackson has declined additional training exercises in the past.


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