Nightly News   |  November 29, 2013

‘Hiring Our Heroes’: NJ fire department hires 32 vets

New Jersey's North Hudson Fire department puts veterans on the top of their hiring list as more employers find it pays to turn to those who’ve carried the load in the past. NBC News’ Katy Tur reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight, think about how many times you have heard the message "hire a veteran." tonight we'll show you what that means. hiring somebody who knows how to get things done, respects the chain of command , doesn't scare easily. one community realized those are ideal characteristics for the job of firefighter. now when there is help wanted , they know who to turn to. our report tonight from nbc's katie tur.

>> reporter: for most probationary firefighters or probies as the rookies are called, training to jump out of a window can be intimidating. for scott, this is nothing.

>> when i went down i wanted to pack it up and go again. it's fun. that's a parallel this job has to the military.

>> reporter: he would know. army staff stargt and his fellow probies are veterans. flil johnny was in the air force .

>> reporter: what was it like when you got the job?

>> i was ecstatic. when he heard i was a firefighter he was jealous.

>> reporter: i thought cops don't like firefighters?

>> that's why he was jealous.

>> reporter: new jersey's north hudson fire department brought on 11 vets in 2012 . it was such a success it hired 32 this year and hopes to hire as many as 30 more. the chief says putting vets on top of the hiring list was a no-brainer.

>> they are young, aggressive, energetic men. they have been working out well.

>> reporter: so well it's hard to believe any of these guys would have had trouble finding work. that's what happened to lance corporal frank flphillips after a tour in baghdad he was turned away from at least ten jobs.

>> they would hire, you know, joe schmo off the street. here i am. a disabled veteran, trying to get a job and they turn you away.

>> reporter: for phillips and the rest the department is more than a paycheck.

>> we are tight. i have 32 other brothers with the academy. if i have a problem i know one of them would be at my door, pounding it down.

>> reporter: from serving our country to our communities.

>> instead of taking lives, we're saving them now. and they pay me for it. i don't know.

>> reporter: for them, it's a chance to do what they do best.

>> i'm a firefighter now. i will be until they won't let me do it anymore.

>> reporter: katie tur, nbc news, north hudson , new jersey.