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East Pennsauken Volunteer Fire Assoc. 1 v. Township of Pennsauken

Decided: October 9, 1964.

EAST PENNSAUKEN VOLUNTEER FIRE ASSOC. #1, ETC., ET AL., APPELLANTS,
v.
THE TOWNSHIP OF PENNSAUKEN, ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Conford, Kilkenny and Lewis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Lewis, J.A.D.

Lewis

Appellants, volunteer fire associations (sometimes also referred to as fire companies) in the Township of Pennsauken, were incorporated and operate under R.S. 15:8-1 et seq. as non-profit corporations for the purpose of offering fire protection to the residents of the township. Their complaint in the Superior Court, Law Division, sought a declaratory judgment regarding the civil service status, rights and duties of their respective members.

The record before us has been settled by an agreed statement of facts pursuant to R.R. 4:88-8(a), which was supplemented, in response to inquiries from this court, by an explanatory letter from the office of the Attorney General on behalf of the Civil Service Commission. The pertinent facts may be summarized:

-- The appellant associations are comprised of volunteer members and officers, and each association except one has a fireman on full-time duty who receives an annual salary paid by the township.

-- The municipality annually appropriates money for said associations, provides workmen's compensation and other insurance, and owns all of the fire equipment and apparatus.

-- On June 13, 1955 the township adopted an ordinance to "organize, regulate and control the part paid and volunteer fire department," and specifically designated therein the six appellant fire companies.

-- The legal voters of the township approved, on November 8, 1960, an ordinance of their governing body fixing and increasing the salaries of the paid members of the volunteer fire department.

-- The residents of the township, at a general election on November 7, 1961, adopted the provisions of the Civil Service Act, R.S. 11:19-1 et seq. , applicable to counties, municipalities and school districts. At that time there existed five full-time firemen whose positions were "covered in," conformably with N.J.S.A. 11:21-6, and their employment has been continued.

-- The single remaining position is held by a permanent patrolman, temporarily assigned as a full-time fireman. To fill that open classification the Civil Service Department in July 1962 initiated its examining procedures but an eligible roster of three names, as contemplated by N.J.S.A. 11:22-16, has not resulted.

-- Appellants maintained that neither they nor their several members, paid or unpaid, were subject to Civil Service.

-- On November 20, 1962 the Civil Service Commission, at its regular meeting, adopted the following resolution:

"The regular interpretation of the Civil Service Law which is followed by the Civil Service Commission is that all firemen in municipalities subject to Civil Service are covered by Civil Service if the source of the funds for the payment of their salaries is from the Municipal Treasury. It is the Commission's position ...


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