Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
SECTION 1. It is hereby recognized that the Erie Fire Association No. 4, Inc. and the Central Fire Company of Georgetown, Mass. , Inc. have played a unique role in the history of the town of Georgetown and that the Erie Fire Association No. 4, Inc. is the oldest privately -owned volunteer fire company in the United States . The town seeks to preserve the special relationship it has shared with the fire companies in the provision of fire protection services to the town, and further, to preserve the historical significance accorded to the Erie Fire Association No. 4. While the town seeks to centralize fire protection services under the direction of a chief of the fire department, it is further recognized that to best leverage the limited financial and physical resources of the town, the continued relationship of the town with the fire companies will provide important supplementary resources and support to maintain the high level of fire protection services the people of the town of Georgetown expect.
SECTION 2. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, there shall be a fire department in the town of Georgetown under the control of a chief of the fire department, in this act called the fire chief. The fire chief shall be appointed by the board of selectmen of the town and shall receive such salary as the board of selectmen may, from time to time, determine, not to exceed , in the aggregate, the amount annually appropriated therefore. The fire chief may be removed for cause by the board of selectmen at any time after a hearing.
SECTION 3. The board of selectmen of the town of Georgetown may establish an employment contract with the chief of the fire department for a period of up to 3 years to provide for the salary, fringe benefits and other conditions of employment including, b ut not limited to, severance pay, relocation expenses, reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of the duties of the fire chief, liability insurance, conditions of discipline, termination, dismissal, performance standards and leave. The contract shall be subject to annual appropriation. The contract shall prevail over any conflicting provision of any local personnel by-law, ordinance, rule or regulation. In addition to the benefits provided to municipal employees under chapters 32 and 32B of the General Laws, the contract may provide for supplemental retirement and insurance benefits. Nothing in this act shall grant tenure to the fire chief or abridge section 67 of chapter 44 of the General Laws.
SECTION 4. (a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) , the fire chief shall have the duties and responsibilities described in this subsection. The fire chief shall have charge of extinguishing fires in the town of Georgetown and the protection of life and property in case of fire. The fire chief shall purchase, subject to the approval of the board of selectmen, and keep in repair all property and apparatus used for and by the fire department. The fire chief shall have and exercise all the powers and discharge all the duties conferred or imposed by statute upon engineers in towns, except as herein provided, and shall appoint 1 or more deputy fire chiefs and such officers and firefighters as the fire chief considers necessary or appropriate and may remove the same for cause at any time after a hearing. Firefighters so appointed by the fire chief shall serve a probationary period of 1 year, during which time they shall perform the duties of a firefighter and may be removed at any time after a hearing. All officers and firefighters appointed by the fire chief shall be employees of the town, subject to the authority of the fire chief and any rules and regulations adopted by the fire chief for operation of the department and all applicable General Laws. The fire chief shall have full and absolute authority in the administration of the department, shall make all rules and regulations for its operation, shall report to the board of selectmen, from time to time as the board of selectmen may require, and shall annually report the condition of the fire department to the town along with the fire chiefs’ recommendations thereto . The fire chief shall determine the compensation of the permanent full-time, permanent part-time and call members of the fire department, subject to the approval of the board of selectmen. The fire chief shall, in the expenditure of money, be subject to such further limitations as the town may, from time to time, prescribe.
(b) The board of selectmen, in consultation with the fire chief, may, at its sole discretion, enter into contracts with the Erie Fire Association No. 4, Inc. and the Central Fire Company of Georgetown, Mass. , Inc ., for fire protection apparel, equipment and facilities. Execution of such contracts shall not require the approval of the town meeting. Sections 38A1/2 through 38O of chapter 7 of the General Laws, and chapters 30, 30B, and 149 of the G eneral Laws shall not apply to the contracts. Contracts authorized by this section may address, but are not limited to addressing, the following subjects: departmental use of equipment owned by either fire company; proper maintenance of firefighting apparel, equipment and facilities owned by either fire company; indemnification of the town for use of such apparel, facilities and equipment; minimum levels of insurance, including naming the town of Georgetown as an additional insured; and payment of compensation to either fire company for the use of firefighting apparel, equipment or facilities.
(c) A contract between the town of Georgetown and the Erie Fire Association No. 4, Inc. or the Central Fire Company of Georgetown, Mass., Inc. shall not exceed a period of 10 years; provided, however, that the board of selectmen may extend such contract, or negotiate any new contract, for up to 2 additional periods of up to 10 years each . The financial obligation of the town of Georgetown under any such contract shall be subject to annual appropriation.
(d) Upon a majority vote of the entire board of selectmen, and with the approval of town meeting, the town may permanently se ver its relationship with either firefighting company and terminate any contracts entered into pursuant to this act upon 60 -days written notice of termination from the board of selectmen, at which time subsection (b) shall no longer be in effect with respect to the firefighting company to which notice was provided in accordance with this section. Failure to enter into a contract, negotiate a new contract or extend an existing contract for the purposes authorized herein shall not be considered to constitute permanent severance of the relationship of the town with the fire companies as set forth in the preceding clause.
SECTION 5. Pending the initial selection and appointment of an interim or permanent fire chief by the board of selectmen under this act, the board of fire engineers shall continue to serve in its current capacity, subject to all laws applicable to such boards, including, but not limited to chapter 48 of the General Laws. Upon the appointment by the board of selectmen of an interim or permanent fire chief under this act, the term of any incumbent member of the board of fire engineers shall be terminated and the board of fire engineers shall thereupon be dissolved. Any individual appointed as a firefighter by the board of fire engineers as of the effective date of this act shall continue in that position until the expiration of the term of appointment of such firefighter, notwithstanding the dissolution of the board of fire engineers. Appointments of firefighters shall thereafter be made in accordance with subsection (a) of section 4 .
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
Approved April 24 , 2008