WILDWOOD – Four new full-time career firefighters received their oaths Jan. 26 before a packed room filled with family, friends, officials and their fellow firefighters.

Rayquan Walker, David Speigel Jr., John Snyder and John Sharp were each sworn in by Wildwood Commissioner Tony Leonetti.

“This is a great day for the City of Wildwood,” Leonetti said. “Our fire department is one of the best and most highly skilled departments in the state. And the addition of these four firefighters will only enhance our ability to serve and protect our residents and our visitors.” Leonetti added that the city was able to hire the four new firefighters via a highly competitive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant.

Working in close conjunction with Triad Associates, the Wildwood Fire Department received a SAFER grant in the amount of $481,984 that will be used for the four new hires. Triad is a Vineland-based community and economic development firm that secured more than $880 million in funding for its clients over the past 39 years.

“Each year FEMA receives approximately 1,500 applications for SAFER grants but only makes awards to fewer than 20 percent,” said Todd Noon of Triad Associates. “This program is one of the most competitive grant opportunities available to fire departments.”

“We tried for so many years to win a SAFER grant, but were never successful,” said Wildwood Fire Chief Daniel Speigel. “This is a great achievement for our department and for the City of Wildwood.”

Through the hiring of the four new firefighters the city expects to have shorter response times to calls; have the ability to immediately act offensively on a fire call; have the ability to comply with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards; and better protect lives and property.