The Vermont Statutes Online
- Subchapter 001: GENERAL PROVISIONS
§ 2481. Establishment; change of limits
(a) Upon application in writing of 20 or more freeholders or voters of a proposed fire district, the selectboard, after a duly warned public hearing, may establish such proposed fire district and define its limits. Such application shall contain a list of the powers mentioned in sections 2601 and 2603 of this title which the proposed district shall have and the district shall not have any of the other powers mentioned in these sections. Fire districts thus created shall be named by number in the order of their establishment. The selectboard shall file a certificate of its doings in the office of the town clerk for record. The selectboard may change the limits of a fire district upon a similar application and in like manner subject to the approval by the fire district at the annual or a special meeting of the fire district duly warned but any change in limits of a fire district may take place only with the consent of the majority of the landowners newly included within or excluded from those boundaries by that alteration. A record of any alteration of fire district boundaries shall be made by the town clerk. Only property contiguous to the fire district shall be the subject of an expansion of the boundaries of a fire district. For purposes of this subsection, a "public hearing" shall be a meeting of the legislative body of a town or of a fire district for the duly warned purpose of establishing or changing the limits of a fire district. Public notice for a public hearing required by this subsection shall be given not less than 15 days prior to the date of the public hearing by:
(1) The publication of the date, place, and purpose of the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality affected; and
(2) The posting of the same information in one or more public places within the municipality.
(b) If a petition signed by five percent of the legal voters of the town objecting to the proposed establishment or change of limits of the fire district is presented to the town clerk within 30 days of the date of posting and publication of the notice required by subsection (a) of this section, the selectboard shall cause the question of whether the town shall establish or change the limits of the fire district to be considered at a special or annual meeting called for that purpose. After the meeting, the fire district shall be established or the limits changed unless a majority of the voters of the town present and voting vote to disapprove of such establishment or change of limits. If a petition signed by five percent of the legal voters of a town objecting to a selectboard decision denying the establishment or the change of limits of a fire district is presented to the town clerk within 30 days of the selectboard decision, the selectboard shall cause the question of whether the town shall establish or change the limits of the fire district to be considered at a special or annual meeting called for that purpose. (Amended 1993 No. 164 (Adj. Sess.) § 13; 2003, No. 93 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
§ 2482. Body corporate; first meeting
The inhabitants of such district shall be a body corporate. The first meeting shall be called by the selectmen in the manner provided for warning fire district meetings. The first selectman, or, in his or her absence, either of the others shall preside at such meeting.
§ 2483. Annual and special meetings
The annual fire district meeting shall be held on the second Monday in January, or at such other time as the district at any regular or special meeting may determine, and shall be warned by the clerk, or, in the clerk's absence or neglect, by one of the prudential committee. Special meetings shall be warned in the same manner on application in writing by three or more voters of the district, or by five percent of the voters of the district, whichever is greater. A warning for a fire district meeting shall state the business to be transacted. The time and place of holding the meeting shall be posted in two or more public places in the district not more than 40 days nor less than 30 days before the meeting and recorded in the office of the clerk before the same is posted. (Amended 1985, No. 196 (Adj. Sess.), § 19.)
§ 2484. Voters
Persons residing within the limits of a fire district who are voters in town meeting shall be voters in fire district meeting.
§ 2485. Officers generally
A fire district shall elect at its first meeting and at each annual meeting thereafter a clerk, a treasurer and a collector of taxes. Such fire district may elect a chief engineer and such assistant engineers as are necessary, whether or not they are inhabitants of the district, who shall rank in the order of their election. Such officers shall hold office until the next annual meeting and until others are elected. A vacancy in any office may be filled by the prudential committee. Such district at its first meeting shall elect a prudential committee which shall consist of three persons, who shall serve for one, two and three years, respectively. Thereafter at each annual meeting a member of such committee shall be elected for the term of three years. If the fire district so votes, two additional persons may be elected to such committee for a term of one year. A vacancy in such committee may be filled at an annual meeting, or at a special meeting called for that purpose, but the selectmen of the town in which such district is located may fill a vacancy in such committee until an election by the appointment of a resident of such district. When a meeting is not held on the second Monday in January, the officers of the district may be elected at a special meeting. The officers shall be elected by ballot if demanded by a voter, and by a majority vote. (Amended 1993, No. 77, § 1.)
§ 2486. Collector
A fire district may elect the collector of town taxes, although he or she is not an inhabitant of the district, to be collector of fire district taxes. If he or she accepts the office, he or she shall have the powers and be subject to the duties imposed upon fire district collectors.
§ 2487. Clerk
The clerk shall keep a record of the meetings, votes and proceedings of such district for the inspection of the inhabitants thereof.
§ 2488. Board of tax abatement
The board for the abatement of taxes of a fire district shall consist of the prudential committee, the clerk thereof, the justices of the peace and listers residing therein. Such board may abate taxes accruing to such municipality in all cases where a different provision is not made by the charter, acts of incorporation, or amendments thereto, of such municipality.
§ 2489. Fire districts; two or more towns
(a) Where the limits of a proposed fire district include two or more towns, or portions of two or more towns, irrespective of whether the towns are situated in different counties, the application set forth in section 2481 of this title shall be made to the selectmen of each such town and the selectmen of each town as provided in section 2481 of this title may establish the proposed fire district and define its limits. The selectmen of each town shall file a certificate of their doings for record in the office of their respective town clerks and, if the proposed district extends into more than one county, in the office of the clerk of each such county. The selectmen may change the limits of the fire district upon a similar application subject to the approval of the fire district as provided in this chapter.
(b) The first meeting of the fire district shall be called by the combined membership of the boards of selectmen of the several towns in the manner provided for warning fire district meetings. The combined membership shall elect from its members a chairman to preside at the first meeting. Where a vacancy in the prudential committee arises, the vacancy in the committee may be filled by the combined vote of the selectmen of each town. The fire district shall have all the same rights, duties, obligations, and responsibilities, and be governed by all of the provisions relating to fire districts located wholly within the limits of one town. (Added 1971, No. 62, § 1, eff. April 14, 1971.)
- Subchapter 002: TOWN FIRE DISTRICTS
§ 2541. Formation
At an annual or special meeting, by a majority vote of those present and voting, towns may vote to form a fire district whose limits shall be the town limits, provided the warning for such meeting contains an article to that effect. (Amended 1971, No. 62, § 2, eff. April 14, 1971.)
§ 2542. Powers generally
A town functioning as a fire district under this chapter shall have all the powers, so far as the same may be applicable, now given to fire districts by sections 2601-2607 and 2671-2675 of this title.
§ 2543. Board of fire commissioners
When a town has so voted, the board of selectmen shall constitute a board of fire commissioners and may purchase all necessary and proper apparatus for the prevention and extinguishment of fires.
§ 2544. Employees
The selectmen may appoint a chief engineer for such district and all other necessary firemen and employees.
§ 2545. Expenditures
All expenditures under sections 2541-2544 of this title shall be paid out of the general fund of the town unless the town by its vote shall otherwise direct.
- Subchapter 003: POWERS
§ 2601. Generally
A fire district may vote to adopt the town manager system in compliance with 24 V.S.A. chapter 37. It may vote a tax upon the taxable estate for the protection of property in the district from damage by fire; for the acquisition, construction, and maintenance of sewers and sewage treatment works; sidewalks; public parks; water works, water companies, and equipment and real estate used in connection therewith including reservoirs and dams; for lighting; and for other lawful purposes. The prudential committee and collector shall have the same power in assessing, levying, and collecting the tax, as town officers have in assessing and collecting town taxes, including the collection of interest on overdue taxes. The prudential committee may expend such sums for acquiring, constructing, and maintaining sewers and sewage treatment works; sidewalks; public parks; water works, water companies, and all equipment and real estate used in connection therewith including reservoirs and dams; and for lighting purposes as the fire district may vote. The committee may use and occupy such portions of the highways within the district as may be necessary for constructing and maintaining sewers and sewage treatment works; sidewalks; public parks; water works and mains, and for lighting purposes. (Amended 1969, No. 223 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 31, 1970; 1981, No. 133 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 2, 1982.)
§ 2602. Matters subject to regulation by bylaws
A fire district at its meetings may regulate by bylaws the manufacture and safekeeping of ashes, gunpowder and combustibles, and the preservation of buildings from fire by precautionary measures and by inspection.
§ 2603. Sprinkling and oiling streets
If it so votes at its annual meeting, a fire district may empower its prudential committee to cause the streets of such district to be sprinkled or oiled to the extent deemed necessary by the committee.
§ 2604. Preservation of property
In the name of the district, the prudential committee may make contracts and expenditures for the preservation of property in such district from damage by fire as they deem necessary, and draw orders on the treasury therefor. However, such committee shall not bind the district for a greater sum than has been voted.
§ 2605. Purchase of property
A fire district, through its prudential committee, may purchase and hold, in addition to the apparatus for extinguishing fires, such real and personal estate as is necessary for the preservation of the fire apparatus. (Amended 1967, No. 17.)
§ 2606. Eminent domain
When a fire district decides to erect a building for the preservation of its fire apparatus and the location of land for such building is determined, if the owner thereof refuses to convey the same to the district at a price which such district deems reasonable, such district may take such land in the same manner as a town may take land for town purposes as provided in 24 V.S.A. §§ 2805 to 2812. The duties imposed by such sections upon selectmen shall be performed by the prudential committee of such district. All petitions and notices shall be served on the clerk of such district in lieu of on the town clerk as therein provided.
§ 2607. Actions and claims
The committee may commence and prosecute actions in the name of the district, defend and adjust actions commenced against it and settle claims in favor of and against the district.
- Subchapter 004: CHIEF ENGINEER
§ 2671. Duties generally
The chief engineer, or, in his or her absence, the assistants in the order of their rank, under the supervision of the prudential committee, shall have charge of the apparatus for the prevention and extinguishment of fires, and shall keep the same in serviceable order. When on duty, an engineer shall wear conspicuously a badge of office with his or her rank inscribed thereon.
§ 2672. Enforcement of bylaws; alteration and repair of fireplaces, furnaces and stoves
The chief engineer may carry into effect any bylaw or regulation of the district, and may direct alterations in the position and repairs of fireplaces, furnaces, stoves and other things from which damage from fire is apprehended. If such directions are not complied with forthwith, he or she may cause such change or repairs to be made, and recover the expense thereof, with costs, of the owner or possessor in a civil action in the name of the district.
§ 2673. Powers and duties during hazardous chemical or substance incident, fires; threat of fires or explosions
(a) The chief engineer, or in the chief's absence, the assistant highest in rank present at a hazardous chemical or substance incident or fire, shall have charge of the fire apparatus and of the companies and persons attending the hazardous chemical or substance incident or fire for the purpose of containing, controlling or extinguishing the same, and may remove goods and effects out of a building or place endangered by the hazardous chemical or substance incident or fire. The chief engineer may cause to be pulled down or removed, such buildings as the chief deems necessary to prevent the spread of hazardous material or fire, and for such purposes, may require the assistance of inhabitants of the district. During the hazardous chemical or substance incident or fire, the chief engineer may suppress tumults or disorders and direct the labor of inhabitants present in such fire district.
(b) Where an emergency situation exists in a municipality and there is no fire, but there is an imminent threat of a hazardous chemical or substance incident, fire or explosion, the ranking member of the fire company responding will be in charge as long as the imminent threat continues. Where there is a threat of bombing, the fire department shall surrender responsibility to the police department having jurisdiction in the area.
(c) The ranking member of a fire department shall have authority to direct, control and supervise traffic at the scene of a fire or other emergency to which a fire department has responded.
(d) [Repealed.] (Amended 1961, No. 52, § 1; 1975, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 7, 1976; 1991, No. 29, § 1; 1993, No. 194 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. June 14, 1994; 2009, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 26(8)(A).)
§ 2674. Assistance outside district
When a fire occurs in a fire district or town, and application for assistance is made to an officer or inhabitant of another organized fire district by an officer or inhabitant of such district or town, if in his judgment assistance should be granted, the chief engineer may designate the engine and company to render such assistance.
§ 2675. Penalties for disobedience of order or bylaw
A person who refuses to obey a lawful order or direction of an engineer or the official highest in rank present at a fire or other emergency, or disobeys a bylaw of the district, shall be fined not more than $250.00. (Amended 1961, No. 52, § 2; 1991, No. 29, § 2.)