TOWN MAY NOT PURCHASE DISABILITY INSURANCE FOR MEMBERS OF VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT UNLESS CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP EXISTS. UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES COUNCIL MEMBERS WHO SERVE AS VOLUNTEERS MAY RECEIVE COVERAGE.
VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENTS SHOULD HAVE LIABILITY INSURANCE ON MOTOR VEHICLES PLACED IN THEIR POSSESSION BY THE STATE FORESTRY COMMISSION. DISCUSSION OF LIABILITY OF STATE FORESTRY COMMISSION, COUNTY GOVERNING BODIES AND VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENTS WITH REFERENCE TO NEGLIGENT ACTIONS BY MEMBERS OF THE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT.
THE SUPERVISION OF THE SUMMERDALE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT CHIEF DEPENDS UPON THE NATURE OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TOWN OF SUMMERDALE AND THE FIRE DEPARTMENT. FIRE DEPARTMENT CANNOT RESTRICT MEMBERSHIP TO MALES ONLY, BUT MAY CHARGE FEES FOR MEMBERSHIP. FIREMEN CAN BE PAID AN EXPENSE ALLOWANCE FOR ATTENDING MEETINGS AND FIRES.
WHILE THE CITY MAY, UNDER CODE OF ALABAMA 1975, SECTION 9-3-18, DONATE FUNDS TO THE TRUSSVILLE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT, THE CITY SHOULD, WITH SOME CAUTION, CONTRACT WITH THE VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT.
1. TITLE AND OWNERSHIP OF EQUIPMENT PURCHASED FREE OF SALES TAX FROM THE STATE BID LIST BY RECOGNIZED VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT MAY NOT BE TRANSFERRED TO AN INDIVIDUAL IN EXCHANGE FOR A CONTRIBUTION OF THE PURCHASE AMOUNT. 2. MEMBER OF RECOGNIZED VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT MAY NOT PURCHASE THROUGH SUCH ORGANIZATION EQUIPMENT FOR PERSONAL USE FROM THE STATE BID LIST AND AVOID THE PAYMENT OF SALES TAX.
A Judge of Probate may not charge a volunteer fire department any fees for filing articles of incorporation. The Code of Alabama 1975, Section 40-9-13(A) exempts volunteer fire departments from payment of any state, county and municipal taxes, licenses, fees and charges of any nature whatsoever.
Before citing questions 3 and 6 from this opinion, see opinion issued to Hon. Charles B. Cole, Mayor, town of New Brockton, dated 3-28-2003, A.G. No. 2003-115.
An independent firefighters auxiliary is formed by citizens and firefighters without action by the city council.
A municipality may not allow a firefighters auxiliary to use municipally owned facilities and equipment for fundraisers or any other purpose.
The name "Firefighters Auxiliary" is an appropriate title for an independent group organized to assist a volunteer fire department.
Funds appropriated to a volunteer fire department by a municipality may be used to purchase soft drinks and sandwiches for consumption by firefighters during a working fire call to combat dehydration, etc.
The city may not buy food items to be resold to the public at a profit for fundraising purposes.
If a volunteer fire department or rescue squad is sanctioned by a municipality its funds are subject to audit with other municipal funds. If a volunteer fire department or rescue squad receives public funds, the Examiners of Public Accounts are authorized to audit its accounts although such fire department or rescue squad is not sanctioned by a municipality.
A council member who serves as a volunteer fireman may be reimbursed for expenses or given an expense allowance for the fire and medical calls made by him.
A city council member may drive a vehicle belonging to Volunteer Fire Department to his home if the officials in charge of the department authorize him to do so. This issue should also be addressed to the State Ethics Commission.
The Center Point Fire District is authorized to make a donation of funds to the spouse of a firefighter killed in the line of duty if the board of directors determines it is within its corporate powers to make the expenditure.
The requirements of membership and payment of dues are valid requirements for eligibility to vote on matters before a volunteer fire department if the bylaws require membership and payment of dues in order to vote.
Pursuant to their authority to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, volunteer fire departments may enter private property to extinguish a fire. Volunteer, nonprofit fire departments acting gratuitously and in good faith are entitled to immunity provided in section 6-5-335 of the Code of Alabama. The liability of firefighters, fire departments, and municipalities, in general, however, can only be determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The Elmore County Commission may contribute, either through a monetary donation or by use of county equipment, to a firefighters’ nonprofit association if the Commission determines that such a contribution will serve a public purpose.
Discussion providing that Section 40-9-13(a) of the Code of Alabama does not require that property or services offered by a county or municipal government for sale or rent to the public be provided free to volunteer fire departments and other organizations described in the statute.
The Alabama Emergency Management Act authorizes the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (“AEMA”) and county EMAs to involve individuals and organizations that are not part of the government in emergency management activities in support of the Special Population Protection (“SPP”) program. The Emergency Management Act and Volunteer Service Act provide immunity from civil liability for volunteers and volunteer organizations assisting the SPP program, provided they are acting on behalf of the State.
Because volunteer fire departments are not state agencies, section 1-2A-7 of the Code of Alabama does not require that the department fly the state flag. If a department is sanctioned by a municipality, the fire department building may be a municipal building that must fly the flag under section 1-2A-5.
The chief of a municipal fire department or municipally sanctioned volunteer fire department, as an assistant to the State Fire Marshal, who has complied with APOST standards may, if directed by the Fire Marshal, issue a citation for the violation of a state law related to the matters set forth in section 36-19-2 of the Code of Alabama.
A volunteer fire department certified by the Alabama Forestry Commission is subject to the Open Meetings Act.
A county volunteer fire association is subject to the act.
A quorum of the governing body or a committee or subcommittee of a certified volunteer fire department or county volunteer fire association at a prearranged gathering required by law; a prearranged gathering at which it can exercise its powers or approve the expenditure of public funds; or a gathering at which it deliberates specific matters expected to come before the body, committee, or subcommittee at a later date, is a meeting subject to the act.
Current law does not specifically prohibit persons 16 years old and older from riding in fire trucks to the scene of a fire. If the Alabama Department of Labor (“Department”) determines that such activities are a danger to life and limb, the Department may promulgate rules and regulations that regulate or restrict the ability of persons who are under 18 years of age.
Volunteer firemen at the scene of a vehicle accident do not have arrest powers other than those of a private citizen. The chief of a municipally sanctioned volunteer fire department may, under certain limited circumstances as set forth in A.G. Opinion No. 2005-198, issue citations. A volunteer firefighter's privately owned vehicle is not an authorized emergency vehicle unless designated as such by the chief of police of an incorporated city or the Director of Public Safety. Only authorized emergency vehicles may use red lights visible from the front of such vehicle. No vehicle other than an authorized emergency vehicle may have flashing white lights other than signal lights and emergency flashers authorized by section 32-5-241(d)(3) of the Code of Alabama.
Municipal ordinances relating to fire protection, such as building codes and burn permits, may be enforced within the police jurisdiction of the municipality. Only municipal police officers have the authority to issue citations for violations of these municipal ordinances. The chief of a municipal fire department or municipally sanctioned volunteer fire department, as an assistant to the State Fire Marshal, who has complied with APOST standards, may, if directed by the Fire Marshal, issue a citation for the violation of a state law related to the matters set forth in section 36-19-2 of the Code of Alabama.
Because fire districts may be created as firefighting districts or firefighting and medical services districts, the types of calls to which the Turnerville Volunteer Fire Department must respond depends on the type of district created in its bylaws.
A municipality’s authority over fire protection and rescue services in the police jurisdiction is not exclusive. If, however, a municipality undertakes to provide fire protection in its police jurisdiction, the services provided in the police jurisdiction should be provided equally throughout the police jurisdiction.
E-911 boards, municipalities, and volunteer fire departments should work together to ensure the most efficient service to persons in their districts. A municipality may contract with a volunteer fire department to provide service in a portion of the police jurisdiction, provided that the protection is equal to that provided elsewhere in the jurisdiction. The municipality may contract with an E-911 board.
The Mt. Olive Fire Protection District (“District”) is not required to direct traffic during motor vehicle incidents. Whether the District should do so, and who should provide training, are policy determinations to be made by the District.
The District may not perform routine traffic control in nonemergency circumstances.
Volunteer firefighters may be granted limited immunity under section 6-5-335 of the Code of Alabama when acting gratuitously and in good faith.
The sheriff, Alabama Department of Public Safety, constables, and the District should cooperate to ensure adequate, timely traffic control at an incident.