HACKENSACK, N.J. (PIX11) – As Hackensack fire trucks head out to fight fires, some firefighters are dealing with another fight.

Some lawmakers are fired up over a grant to help Hackensack bolster its fire department, one that they learned City Council is turning down.

“It’s very hard to win these competitive grants to hire firefighters,” said Democratic U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, “and now they’re deciding they actually want to turn it down.”

Flanked by firefighters from Hackensack and surrounding communities, Gottheimer and Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco called out City Council to urge them to accept a nearly $2.4 million SAFER grant to pay for a dozen new firefighters for three years. The city only has a few more days to accept the grant.

“Every year firefighters retire, so it will help,” said Gottheimer, “and the City is expanding massively, so we need more firefighters.”

“Now we’re going to have a group of elected officials turn down millions of dollars that are going to be spent to protect the thousands of people that live here? Not right,” said Tedesco.

PIX11 News reached out to the City of Hackensack for comment. Spokesman Nick Bond said in part:

“The Hackensack City Council is committed to keeping residents safe while protecting taxpayers from unnecessary costs, and unfortunately in this case a federal grant application was submitted that erroneously included funding for 12 firefighters rather than the five positions that were authorized by the Council. The City intends to submit a revised grant application for five firefighters, and with all due respect to Congressman Gottheimer, the City Council is acting in the best interests of Hackensack taxpayers by ensuring that its Fire Department continues to be appropriately staffed without adding unnecessary new hires that taxpayers cannot afford.”

The City of Hackensack also says that the SAFER grant only pays for the salary and benefits of new hires for their first three years. After that, the cost falls on taxpayers.

According to FEMA, SAFER grants were created to provide direct funding to fire departments to help them increase or maintain the number of front-line firefighters available in communities.

“New Jersey has done very well with SAFER grants,” said Steve McConlogue, president of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, “and it continues to be a huge asset for our departments.”