TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly on Monday passed a bill allowing members of the National Guard and military reserve called to active duty to remain age-eligible for civil service firefighter positions. The bill, sponsored by Assemblymen Parker Space and Alex Sauickie, would provide parity with existing law that offers retained eligibility for military members seeking police officer positions through the Civil Service Commission.
“Firefighters with military service bring great value to a fire department and their patriotism shouldn’t be a barrier to employment,” said Space (R-Sussex), who has been a volunteer firefighter since 1989. “This bill gives fire departments the same recruiting advantages that law enforcement agencies currently possess, and respects the selflessness of our Guard members and reservists.”
Paid firefighters in New Jersey must meet minimum and maximum age requirements, usually between 21 and 35 years old, but in some cases up to 40 years old. This measure (A119) would allow Guard members and reservists who met the firefighter age requirements when they took their civil service examination to retain eligibility if they pass the maximum age while fulfilling active duty obligations.
“We should be honoring the dedication of our military members instead of disqualifying them for civilian careers because they were called to duty,” Sauickie (R-Ocean) said. “Their bravery and training make them excellent firefighter candidates. Those who are willing and able to run toward danger are who we need at the fire station. I’m proud that one of my very first bills to pass since taking office this month helps such selfless public servants as military members and firefighters.”
According to April 2022 data from the state Department of Community Affairs, there are approximately 7,760 career firefighters in New Jersey, which is up slightly from 7,390 in 2020. However, the total number of firefighters has decreased by about 230 over the last two years.