DECEMBER 24, 2008

Navy Veteran Takes Oath as Newark Firefighter on Christmas Eve

Standing before his friends and family, Mr. Leber took his oath from Director Giordano and Fire Chief Michael Lalor during a poignant ceremony

NEWARK, NJ - December 26, 2008 - Mayor Cory A. Booker and Fire Director David Giordano announced today that US Navy veteran Paul Leber returned from military service to take his oath as a Newark Firefighter at a Fire Headquarters ceremony on Christmas Eve, joining the next class of Fire recruits.

Standing before his friends and family, Mr. Leber took his oath from Director Giordano and Fire Chief Michael Lalor during a poignant ceremony Wednesday afternoon. Mr. Leber was able to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a Newark firefighter by filling out his paperwork during his final Navy deployment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), and then passing his make-up examination and physical after returning home to Newark.

“We are honoring a man who has served his country with honor, courage, and commitment, by offering a position that gives him an opportunity to define the values he manifested so well across the world’s oceans here in our neighborhoods,” Mayor Booker said in a statement. “Paul Leber will be a role model and mentor for his colleagues in the Fire Department and an inspiration to an entire City. We are privileged to help him achieve his life’s dream.”

Mr. Leber, aged 29, already is state-certified as a Firefighter from the Bergen County Fire Academy. He is waiting to take his second-stage class at the Bergen County Fire Academy in March. Once he gains that second-stage certification, he will take his place in the Newark ranks. Newark Firefighters are required to have both first-and second-stage state certification. First-stage certification covers basic firefighting, while second-stage includes advanced fire suppression and rescue techniques, including CPR.

Born in Passaic, Mr. Leber served on the Roosevelt for four years as a tower supervisor in primary flight control. His uncle, Bob Morgenfruh, is a former Assistant Fire Chief for the Wayne Fire Department, serving for 15 years, as well as 30 years as a Wayne Police Officer. He was present at the ceremony, along with Mr. Leber’s father, Charles Leber.

“I always wanted to be a Newark firefighter,” Mr. Leber said. “My father’s family grew up in Newark which is why it was important for me to return to this busy city. I filled out the paperwork while I was overseas and getting to the end of my deployment, and took the make-up examination and physical tests, while on leave. They were tough exams and I’m very happy to have passed it. I have friends on the Fire Department already, who helped me with the preparation, and I’m grateful to them. Now my goal is to have a wonderful career, helping people, and doing my job to the best of my ability.”

“Paul will be a great addition to our Fire Department’s latest class. I am proud to be able to swear in a veteran on Christmas Eve, and look forward to bringing more veterans into our Department,” Director Giordano said.

“I’m extremely happy as a disabled veteran myself to hire another veteran,” said Chief Lalor. “On February 1st the open application process starts, and we will be doing recruitment during this time period.”

Also in attendance was G.I. Go President Jack Fanous, who highlighted the importance of such an event during this time of year.

“The hiring of this veteran to the city’s firefighting department unit highlights the commitment Mayor Booker, the Fire Chief and the entire city of Newark have towards ensuring our veterans are treated with the respect they have earned. It is truly heartwarming during this holiday season to know that the men and women who stood in the line of fire for us overseas will have the opportunity to do the same here at home” said Fanous.

In addition, Fanous expressed his eagerness to work with Director Giordano and others to ensure that other veterans like Mr. Leber will have the opportunity to join the local Fire Department.

“I look forward to working with the director on fulfilling his commitment to hiring veterans in the future,” Fanous said. “We must remember that finding employment is a key aspect to ensuring our soldiers successfully transition back to civilian life.”

The Fire Department will be giving out applications for people seeking to become firefighters starting on February 1, 2009, and will continue until May 31st. Applications will be available at all Fire Stations in Newark and at Fire Headquarters at 1010 18th Avenue. Anyone seeking to become a Newark firefighter must be a U.S. citizen, a Newark resident, aged between 18-34, with a high school diploma or GED, and have a valid New Jersey Driver’s License. The City will offer training classes after the application period ends for the New Jersey Firefighter entry-level examination. For further information on joining the Newark Fire Department, contact the Department at (973)-733-4759.