Since 1885, New Jersey firefighters and their families have benefitted from a special fund designed to support them in times of tragedy and financial hardship.
It helps pay for the burials of fallen firefighters, provides financial assistance for first responders hit with medical bills, and even provides in-home health care for those who are aging and suffering from physical ailments. The fund is available to active and retired career and volunteer firefighters and their families.
Now, Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration wants to divert $33 million from that fund to spend on its own agenda, an under-the-radar maneuver that critics are calling “horrendous” and a threat to the neediest of firefighters. It means no new money would come into the fund this year.
“These dollars collected from out of state insurance companies are a safety net to help firefighters in their greatest time of hardship, and should never be used to fill a budget hole,” said Ed Donnelly, president of the firefighters’ union, the New Jersey Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association, who first learned about the proposal when he was contacted by a reporter.