New Jersey State Convention
The thirty-seventh annual convention of the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association was held at Atlantic City, September 24. General Bird W. Spencer, a former Mayor of Passaic, who has been president of the association continuously since it was organized, presided. Charges from forces friendly to the State Exempt Firemen’s Association, that the annual convention of this association is costing $11,500 that might better be devoted to the widows and orphans, evoked a storm of indignation among 1,200 delegates, representing 20,000 volunteer and paid firemen of the State. The Exempt Association is fighting for a division of the surplus of $1,500,000 amassed by the State Firemen’s Association, and an allotment of one-half of the 2 per cent, tax upon premiums now paid by all foreign insurance companies in the State for the maintenance of firemen injured in the performance of duty and of their widows and orphans. Approbation greeted President Spencer’s report of how efforts in the State Legislature last winter to divide the huge reserve had been defeated after a strenuous fight in the closing hours of the session, and the State Association voted, with delegates on their feet shouting defiance for their rivals, to fight to the last ditch a movement already on foot to vest control of the administration of this great fund in the State Department of Banking and Insurance. President Spencer said the entire cost of administration last year, including salaries paid the officers of all of the 276 local relief associations in the State, had been but $7,198.39 and he challenged any to produce any record of a private corporation doing so large a business so economically. All of the associations received a total of $264,396 last year and disbursed $254,367, of which amount $159,000 was paid directly to widows and orphans. Secretary William Exall, in resenting the junketing charge of the exempt associations of which there are 75 in the State, chiefly in Hudson County, asserted warmly that 263 of the 276 associations in the State Firemen’s Association are composed of volunteers, who receive little or no compensation and buy their uniforms and frequently their apparatus.
The convention re-elected President Spencer for his 37th consecutive term. Other officers were chosen as follows: Vice-presidents, by districts, first, William Eldridge, Salem; second, J. P. Saar. Palmyra: Third, Jesse Lawrence, Jr., Highlands: fourth, Chief Willard Henry, Raritan; fifth, Fred A. Trowbridge, Morristown; sixth, J. J. Coleman, Hamburg; seventh, John Kennell, Passaic; eighth, Chief George Koeber. Bloomfield; ninth, G. L. Mitchell, East Orange; 10th, Chief Theodore S. Ferrand, Verona; 11th. Thomas B. McKee. Weehawken; 12th, John W. Gilday, Jersey City. Secretary, William Exall, Newark; assistant secretaries, T. Howell Johnson. Bloomfield; Evan S. Benners. Moorestown: financial secretary, George T. Everett, Hackettstown; treasurer, John J. Lane, Summit. Mayor William Riddle, in welcoming the State firemen, asked their co-operation in procuring liberal Sunday legislation and the passage of a law for the taxation of unearned increment.