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Fire Law Forum with Legal Experts


Fire Law Forum with Legal Experts

This group is dedicated to giving general answers to your legal questions. The forum is hosted by experts in fire service law throughout the nation. Attorneys will respond to issues posted on this site.

Members: 60
Latest Activity: Aug 22, 2017

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Comment by Ted Wolford on August 22, 2017 at 11:03am

I have a question about by laws. Four years ago I moved withing my township that has four volunteer fire departments. When doing this I tried to transfer rather then resign and join another department. I was told by both fire chiefs that the bylaws did not outline this so it would not be possible. 

I just read in the bylaws  of the department I went to that members can transfer to other departments inside the township. 

With this being written should they also have it written the other way for a process to receive a transfer from the other departments in the township?

Comment by Ted R. Kolb on January 16, 2016 at 12:30pm

I have a question about where FD members may live with respect to the fire district lines.

Our depart. is in NYS & 100% vol. a 501 c 3 corporation.  The by-law statement reads, “The applicant must be a resident in the Chili Fire Protection District or live within a reasonable distance thereof where this Corporation is primarily empowered to operate.”

The question is what is a reasonable distance thereof and is this even a correct legal statement?  Some members seem to think that 3 or 4 miles outside of the Fire District is acceptable.


Ted R. Kolb

Comment by Ted R. Kolb on October 18, 2013 at 6:54pm

Our department operates under the following:

Membership in this corporation shall be governed by NYS Article 14 Special Not-for-Profit Corporations Section 1402 (b) (3) Fire corporations.

Eligible persons may be elected as members pursuant to the by-laws of the fire corporation, but the election of a member must be approved by the town board of each town which consented to the formation of the fire corporation.  Such a person shall be a resident of the territory specified in the certificate of incorporation or of territory outside such boundaries which is afforded fire protection by the fire corporation etc.

My question:

Can a volunteer fire department in the State of NY set a distance in their by laws outside of the above statement?  

Example: Residents can be recruited from a 1 mile buffer zone outside of the territory specified in the certificate of incorporation.

If this is not legal what are the ramifications?

Comment by John K. Murphy on May 30, 2013 at 4:29pm

Policy would dictate these disciplinary memo's. Depending on the infraction they can be as short as 3 months to as long as 5 years. After that time they become meaningless unless there is repeated offenses of the same or different offenses and then you can use them in additional discipline to include termination. In my department, (Washington State) there were set term lengths that the memo remained in the personnel file and at the end of that period, the firefighter had to petition the Chief or HR in writing requesiting the letter be purged from the personnel file.

Comment by Ted R. Kolb on May 30, 2013 at 12:54pm

Can anyone advise me as to the length of time a disciplinary memo should remain in a firefighters personnel file.  The department is in NYS and is an all-volunteer incorporated department.



Ted R. Kolb

Comment by Brad Pinsky on May 7, 2012 at 11:29pm
The NYS Not For Profit Corporation law requires that votes be taken by members with a quorum present. The law does not permit voting by members other than in person, or through a proxy who is present at te meeting. Thus you cannot use electronic voting as you suggest.
Comment by Ted R. Kolb on May 6, 2012 at 1:56pm

We are in the process of updating our By Laws.  My question is amending and accepting the updated bylaws.

A majority vote of the membership, such as two-thirds present and voting or a majority of all the members, is usually required to amend bylaws.

We have now moved into the electronic age.  Is there an acceptable and legal way to vote on updating bylaws using the Internet and a given time period, say one week for all electronic votes to be submitted?

Our department is 100% volunteer in the state of NY.

Comment by Robert William Hoven on August 6, 2010 at 7:09pm
Thank You
Comment by Wayne DePew on December 10, 2009 at 1:19pm
My question concerns fire company by-laws and the membership not following them. Is there a legal libility issue for the officers and membership at large for not follwing the by-laws as written?
Comment by Brad Pinsky on October 23, 2009 at 10:48pm

I presume the paid staff are part of the IAFF? If so, use the collective bargaining agreement (when negotiated) to limit the problem.

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