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The Lakewood Board of Fire Commissioners sure have a lot of explaining to do!

Like, a lot of explaining!

'Tis the day for lots of salary increases, while oddly, the important work that is supposed to get done there simply isn't getting done.

For the first time, this past year's fire district budget has topped $10 million. Now it seems the boys simply do not know what to do with all our money.

The Commissioners are all set today to increase their own annual salaries from a cozy $6,000 to an even cozier $10,000. How sweet!

They will also be sharing their apparently extravagant wealth with others around them. How even sweeter!

Back in December 2020, the Board of Fire Commissioners signed a 3 year contract with Chief Jonathan Yahr. His 2021 salary was a modest $175,000. The 2023 budget increased this amount to $191,732.

The Fire Commissioners are now set to increase this salary to $240,000, with annual increases of $10,000 for each of the next two years!

Chief Yahr also receives a vehicle which may be driven for personal reasons, except for periods during which the Fire Chief would NOT be reasonably expected to respond to an incident or event (vacation, etc.). The fire district pays pay for all attendant operating and maintenance expenses and insurance.

Also in December 2020, Fire District Administrator Yehuda Beer had his contract renewed for an additional 3 years. His 2021 salary was $125,000. The 2023 budget increased this amount to $155,000.

The Fire Commissioners are now set to increase this salary to $162,562.50, with annual increases of approximately $8,000 for each of the next two years.

Mr. Beer's contract provides that he will also receive a department sponsored vehicle, or, be entitled to a $25,000 annual automobile/clothing allowance.

All in a day's work, the Commissioners will begin the arduous task of soliciting proposals for their attorney position for 2024. As Ian Goldman started off at $155 per hour, and very quickly climbed the ladder to $195 per hour, time will tell what will come in 2024!

While all these cozy salaries are getting even cozier... it seems that there are disturbing issues which need to be addressed.

Congregation Meshech Chochma has an application pending before the Planning Board, proposing to extend Rose Place and construct two duplex structures, a single-family residence, and convert the nursing home at 77 Williams Street to a school.

The new roadway extension is proposed to be only 28 feet wide, with no cul-de-sac bulb. (Standard width of new roads in Lakewood is 32 feet wide).

The circulation plan submitted only depicts sufficient room for a "passenger car" to turn around. The circulation plan does not show sufficient room for a fire truck.

The application was scheduled to have already been heard earlier this week. The application was only tabled once the neighbors retained Attorney Jan Meyer Esq. to represent their opposition to the application.

Curiously, the Planning Board did not receive any report from the Fire District regarding this application.

How can this be? It seems that the Fire District should have had some concerns with the proposed width of the road and lack of circulation plan for a fire truck.

So... FAA News did some digging.

Turns out, NewLines Engineering sent the Site Plan to the Fire District. Their cover letter clearly indicates that the Fire District should submit their response directly to the Planning Board.

The Fire District wrote a report saying that an additional fire hydrant is necessary.

However, this report never made its way to the Planning Board.

This is because Fire District Clerk Erin Belfiglio sent it to.... NewLines Engineering instead of sending it to the Planning Board!

When asked for an explanation, Ms. Belfiglio simply shrugged her shoulders and said, "that was our procedure!"

The Planning Board has approved numerous applications over the last few months for which they did not receive any report from the Fire District. Yet, Chief Yahr has vowed that "we submit reports back for every application that we receive." Well, now we know why the reports he says he wrote were never received by the Planning Board - because Ms. Belfiglio send them to NewLines instead, and NewLines is apparently only too happy to hide reports that give more work like requirements for additional hydrants!

The bed at the Lakewood Fire District sure is cozy!

The Fire Commissioners recently hired Sima Clapman at a starting salary of $55,000. Her title is Fire Prevention Specialist, however, the Commissioners claimed that she will be assisting with the Site Plan reviews.

Time will tell if, aside from just reviewing the plans and writing up reports, the reports will now actually be sent to the correct location!

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Pathetic! said...

So the lazy fire district employees and commissioners are too busy counting all the extra money they’re taking from us to actually spend time to do their jobs and keep our town safe from fires!

Anonymous said...

Is the huge raise in salary a thank you gift for not looking too closely at the developer’s plans or sending it to Newlines instead of the Board?

How incompetent are they??

Anonymous said...

With all the work the Lakewood Fire Marshall’s do are they making such salaries?

Anonymous said...

And yet Toms Rivers budget is over $13,000,000, and they are all Volunteer. So Lakewood does a great job of providing 24/7 on duty fire protection to the town at a very reasonable cost

Shlomo Rockman said...

@Anon 10:00

No one is disputing whether or not Lakewood's fire budget is reasonable.

I am wondering though what the basis for the $50,000 salary increase is.