The is being audited by the NJ Office of the State Comptroller, and the fire commissioners say they have "no idea" why the state suddenly swooped down upon them.
"We received word in early March that they were coming," said Todd Howell, president of the five member fire commissioner board for District 1, which covers Woodbridge Proper and Sewaren.
"I don't know what it's all about. They didn't tell us what they were looking for."
Howell said as many as four state auditors descended on the School Street firehouse and went over 'everything' for six weeks.
"They called ahead of time and said they'd be here. We supplied them with whatever documentation they are looking for," Howell said. That encompassed "paperwork and minutes and vouchers, everything.
"They came with laptops and didn't say anything to us."
Peter McAleer, spokesman for the NJ Office of the State Comptroller, confirmed that they had visited the Woodbridge F.D.
"We did have auditors there," McAleer said. "It's part of a larger review of a series of fire districts. We'll have more details once the audit is complete."
According to their website, the NJ Comptroller's Office is an independent state agency that audits government finances and checks efficiencies of government programs. They are charged by state statute with investigating and uncovering "waste, fraud, and abuse at all levels of...[g]overnment..."
McAleer couldn't say what other towns his department had visited, but Howell said he had heard that Cherry Hill's fire department and "another down the shore" had also had their books looked into.
A report of the audit will be available later this year, McAleer said.
A 47-year veteran of the Woodbridge Fire Department, Howell has been a fire commissioner since 2005, and served a previous stint from 1969 to 1975. This, he said, is his first brush with this type of state auditing agency.
Howell noted that the department has their records taken care of by an accounting firm, and they comply with all state recordkeeping requirements. "We also have an annual audit required by the state. We have an independent auditor where they submit the findings to the state. They've always accepted it without a problem," he said.
The whole episode is perplexing to the fire commissioners.
"We supplied what they asked," Howell said. "Then one day, they got up and went away and never came back again.
"For the life of me, I don't know what it was all about."