Tuckerton Fireman's Relief Association
The history of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association, (“State Association”) and the organization of the Local Relief Associations, (“local associations”) is unique in the history of the United States. It is an interesting review of the fire service in New Jersey. In order to fully understand this history it is necessary to go back to the 1600’s (17th Century) and examine the origin and organization of the state’s early municipalities, the fire service therein, the laws governing the same, their historical records and the legislative initiatives.
The State Association was created in 1885 pursuant to the Laws of 1885, Chapter CCXL (240), approved May 2, 1885. This Act legalized the local associations which were organized within a fire department under governmental control and allowed such local association to affiliate with and create the State Association. Separate Acts provided for the funding of the local relief associations and provided the benefits which the firefighters were originally given and which they received throughout the years including the present. The original funding was a tax or assessment on foreign insurance companies writing fire-related policies in the municipalities of this state. The initial legislation appears to have been enacted in 1826, Laws of 1826, dated December 26, 1826, entitled an “Act relative to Foreign Insurance Companies.” This Act provided for a five percent (5%) tax to be paid to the State for the use by the State. Information was received by representatives of the State Association that a tax or other monies were available for fire service prior to this date, but no record thereof could be found. We conducted a search of the records of some of our earliest municipalities, especially Mount Holly and Burlington City (Township), and the organization of their first fire companies, the Relief Fire Company No. 1, originally named “Brittania Fire Company”, and the Endeavor Fire Company. These records for both municipalities are extant to 1666 and/or 1677. The Relief Fire Company records, still preserved, are complete from 1752. Some of the Endeavor Fire Company records were lost or destroyed and the earliest are unavailable. Also reviewed were some of the records of the Philadelphia fire companies and insurers, especially the Union Fire Company, organized by Benjamin Franklin in 1736, and the Contributionship Companies of Philadelphia, also attributed to Benjamin Franklin in 1752.
Our search also led us to examine State and various County records, including their respective budgets, revenues, tax records and receipts, recorded documents and filings, minutes, ordinances and resolutions, records of related meetings, newspapers of that time and historical records and artifacts as available - Source: New Jersey Fireman's Relief Association.