Fire districts will merge Jan. 1

JACKSON – Municipal officials have taken the final step needed to merge the operation of two fire districts in Jackson.

An ordinance memorializing the consolidation of Fire District No. 1 and Fire District No. 2 was unanimously adopted by the Township Council during its Dec. 8 meeting. With that act, the number of fire districts in Jackson will decrease from four to three.

Each fire district is served by a fire company in the district and overseen by fire commissioners who are elected by residents of the fire district.

The consolidation of fire districts 1 and 2 will become effective Jan. 1.

Municipal officials voted to dissolve Fire District No. 1 (which is served by the Whitesville Fire Company, South Hope Chapel Road) and incorporate it into Fire District 2 (which is served by the Cassville Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, one station on Toms River Road and one station on Miller Avenue).

The new entity will be known as Jackson Township Fire District No. 2 and all future equipment will receive that new name.

Jackson Fire District No. 3 (served by Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Company No. 1) and Jackson Fire District No. 4 (served by Jackson Mills Volunteer Fire Company No. 1) will remain as independent entities.

The consolidation of fire districts 1 and 2 “means more efficiency and savings for taxpayers,” Councilman Scott Martin said. “This is a means to save money for the taxpayers without compromising safety.”

Fire District No. 1 Commissioner Christopher Aldrich previously said a majority of the expected savings will be realized by the removal of redundancies in the fire districts’ professional staff. For example, the new consolidated fire district will employ one attorney, compared to the existing fire districts each employing an attorney.

Fire districts are supported through a tax that each property owner in the fire district pays. Fire District No. 1’s budget for 2015 totaled $615,902 and Fire District No. 2’s budget for 2015 totaled $1.2 million.

Officials said the consolidation of fire districts 1 and 2 will not bring about layoffs for career (paid) firefighters or require the reduction of available apparatus. The consolidated fire district will be comprised of six full-time paid personnel, 15 paid per diem personnel and more than 100 volunteer firefighters.

— Andrew Martins