Acting Gov. Scutari Signs Firefighters Chaplain Bill Into Law

Acting Governor Nicholas Scutari today signed A-5275/S-3671, providing municipal governing bodies more flexibility in appointing chaplains to their fire departments.

Under current law, the governing body of any municipality, by ordinance, may provide for the appointment of one or more ordained members of the clergy as chaplains to the paid or part-paid fire department and force of the municipality, with the rank of battalion chief and their salaries fixed by the governing body.

The bill provides that, for any municipal fire department and force chaplain initially appointed after enactment, the municipality may specify in the ordinance appointing the chaplain whether the chaplain will have a rank and salary. The bill also codifies job protections for any chaplain employed prior to the bill’s enactment; they cannot be dismissed, nor can their salary be diminished, except for specified causes.

“Chaplains provide an invaluable service for local fire departments and the communities they serve,” said Acting Governor Scutari. “They support the men and women who put their lives on the line when protecting the safety of the residents. This law enables local government to appoint fire chaplains that meet their needs without undue expense.”

Primary sponsors of the bill include Senators Linda R. Greenstein and Shirley K. Turner and Assemblymembers Daniel R. Benson and Reginald W. Atkins.

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