Fire District History
In June of 1910, 20 people signed an application requesting the Township Committee to set up boundaries for the Village of Crosswicks as a Fire District. Also included was a portion of Hamilton Township, approved by their Township Committee. A Board of Fire Commissioners, consisting of five (5) members, was duly elected in 1910. Their duties were to oversee operations of the fire companies and also approve the acceptance of new members. Revenues were realized through scrap, paper, and fund drives and also money making projects run by the firefighters. At the time the only fire tax in the Township was levied on the residents in the fire hydrant district, mainly the Village of Crosswicks. The tax covered water main and hydrant rental. The Township contributes funds for fire company support. In May of 1932, application to extend the fire district boundaries to include all of Chesterfield Township was approved by the Township Committee.
As the years went by and expenses increased, revenues realized from items mentioned above were not enough to efficiently operate two fire companies. In 1972, the Township Committee approved the division of the Township into two fire districts by act of an ordinance. The division was made using the voting districts as the dividing lines. Thus voting district #1 became Fire District #1 and voting district #2 became Fire District #2. The existing Board of Fire Commissioners remained as a Board for Fire District #1 and a new Board of 5 members was elected in Fire District #2. All business conducted by both Boards of Fire Commissioners is governed by New Jersey Statutes Title 40A: Fire and Municipalities.
To become a member of the Board of Fire Commissioners of District #1, one must be a resident of that district. A petition, signed by not less than 10 qualified voters of that district, must be notarized and filed with the Secretary of the Board at least 28 days prior to the election. The election is held on the third Saturday of February, with polls open from 2:00pm until 9:00pm. One does not have to be a firefighter or a member of the fire company to seek election to the Board, however, one must be a registered voter to be eligible to vote in the election. Fire Commissioners are elected for 3 year terms on a staggered system of 2, 2, & 1.
Prior to the election the Board is required, by State law, to submit an approved operating budget to the State Department of Community Affairs Local Government Services, for their approval. A date for a public hearing, to change, amend, correct, and adopt a budget, is advertised. The adopted budget is returned to the Department of Community Affairs for their adoption. The amount to be raised by taxation appears on the ballot for voter approval or rejection. Notice of the election, number of candidates running, public budget hearing, absentee ballot notice and the budget are advertised in the newspaper on a set time table as set forth in Title 40A. Upon approval of the budget by the voters, the amount to be raised by taxation is sent to the County Tax Office and a tax figure is struck.
In Fire District #1, all the fire fighting equipment is owned by the Board of Fire Commissioners. It is their responsibility to provide the fire fighters with the equipment to efficiently perform their fire fighting duties. Monies collected through taxes go 100% towards fire fighting services and operations as noted in the budget. The fire house where the equipment is housed is owned and maintained by the Union Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, Crosswicks, NJ.
Due to the current increase in homes and population and projected increase in the recent years, the Board in December 2004 hired three (3) paid fire fighters for coverage during the day, Monday thru Friday. The firefighters are NJ State Certified EMTs and the board had an agreement with the Township to have them run an ambulance during the day (2004-2008). This insured that the township has both Fire and EMS coverage. Evenings, weekends, and holidays are covered by volunteers. As of 2009 ambulance service is now provided through an agreement between the Township and the Mansfield Township Ambulance Corp.
In April of 2007 the Board decided to hire a fourth career firefighter to meet NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) 1710 and 1500’s recommendation of a minimum of four (4) fire fighters on an engine or truck. Currently there is one (1) lieutenant with three (3) fire fighters. The three (3) rotate the task of driving on weekly basis.
The Board of Fire Commissioners District #1 of Chesterfield Township is also the Board of District #1 of Hamilton Township, Mercer County referred to as North Crosswicks. Their fire tax is proportioned to the ratables in that district and their residents are permitted to vote in the election provided they are registered voters.
The District #1 Board of Fire Commissioners meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30pm at the Union Volunteer Fire Company fire house at 18 New Street. The public meeting dates are advertised in the newspaper as required by law. The legal notices appear in the Bordentown Register and the Trenton Times.