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Brick Approves Fire Commissioner Salaries, Complying With New Law

A fire heavily damaged two homes on Bay Way in Brick Township, N.J., Sept. 27, 2021. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A fire heavily damaged two homes on Bay Way in Brick Township, N.J., Sept. 27, 2021. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Brick Township operates three fire districts that are largely autonomous – they hold elections for commissioners, set budgets and tax rates, and determine staffing and equipment needs – but under a new state policy, municipal councils are now required to review and approve the compensation of elected commissioners each year.

Brick’s fire companies are made up of volunteers, however some professional staff is required to run a fire service that covers a 30 square-mile city with 75,000 residents. A look at the compensation for the commissioners of the three fire districts denotes some key differences, but all were ultimately approved by the township council at a recent meeting.

Fire commissioners in Brick are tasked with overseeing each district, which encompasses a geographic slice of town served by a particular fire company or companies. The commissioners stand for election in February, and voters also choose whether to approve or turn down the fire district budget for the year, however turnout has historically been notoriously low.

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Here’s how Brick’s fire commissioners are compensated:

  • Fire District 1: Five Commissioners
    Commissioners’ Salary: $7,000 annually, per commissioner.
    Location Served: District 1 spans the southern-most half of the Township, from the Toms Rivder Township border, north and west to the Lakewood border. It also covers just over a mile of oceanfront area, bordered by Mantoloking on the north and Toms River on the south.)
  • Fire District 2: Five Commissioners
    Commissioners’ Salary: $7,000 annually, per commissioner.
    Location Served: Fire District 2 comprises the central portion of the Township, north and east of the Metedeconk River and Forge Pond, southwest of the Point Pleasant Boro border.
  • Fire District 3: Five Commissioners
    Commissioners’ Salary: President, $44,500; Vice President, $5,000; Treasurer, $19,500; Secretary, $6,500; Commissioner at Large, $6,500.
    Area Served: Fire District 3 covers the northernmost section of the town, bordered by Fire District #2 to the south, the Howell and Wall township borders to the north, and the Wall and Brielle borders to the east.

The higher salaries for Fire District 3 raised eyebrows, leading to a short explanation from township officials as to how the fire districts operate.

“The reason they’re different is because the commissioners for Fire District 3 have not hired paid staff to do the work that’s required, while 1 and 2 have,” said Township Attorney Kevin Starkey.

The total salary for the president of Fire District 3, currently James J. Lepore, includes $5,000 contributions from each district as part of the $44,500 package since he performs work for all of the fire districts in town, Starkey said.

Ultimately, officials noted, neither the mayor nor council determine the salaries.

“The compensation is established by the fire commissioners by adoption of a resolution,” said Starkey. “They’re considered a separate governmental entity, so they set their own compensation. Under the new state law, governing bodies have to approve it, but the taxpayers elect those commissioners.”

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