Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:
Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, including any general law that has been duly adopted by the district meeting of Dartmouth Fire District No. 1, the fire department of the district shall be headed by an officer to be known as the chief of the fire department. The chief shall be appointed by the prudential committee of the district for a term of not more than 5 years; provided however, that the chief may be reappointed for another term as often as the prudential committee desires; provided, further that any reappointment may only occur in the last year of the chief’s current term. The chief shall receive a salary as determined through the execution of a contract with the prudential committee for the term of the appointment; provided, however, that such salary, once established by contract, shall be annually appropriated by the district meeting for the length of the term of appointment. The prudential committee may suspend or remove the chief for just cause at any time after a hearing; provided, however, that the failure to reappoint the chief shall not constitute a removal and shall not require a hearing.
The chief may suspend or remove any subordinate officers for just cause at any time after a hearing. At the request of a subordinate officer, the prudential committee may appoint a hearing officer for a hearing, who shall make factual findings that are binding upon the chief, but who shall not make any decision with respect to what, if any, discipline is merited by those findings.
Should the chief or a subordinate officer choose to appeal a suspension or removal, such appeal shall be made in writing, within 10 business days, to the chair of the prudential committee, and shall be subject to mandatory, binding arbitration. Upon the timely receipt of such a written appeal, the chair of the prudential committee shall submit a request to the American Arbitration Association for the appointment of an arbitrator to conduct the arbitration of the appeal; provided, however, that the prudential committee and the appealing individual may agree upon a different arbitrator. There shall be no hearing for, and no appeal of, any lesser discipline.
The promulgation, amendment and deletion of any rules and regulations for the operation of the fire department shall be undertaken by the chief, subject to the approval of the prudential committee; provided, however, that if the prudential committee fails to approve or disapprove any such promulgation, amendment or deletion within 60 days of being submitted to the chair of the prudential committee by the chief, the rule or regulation shall be considered to be constructively approved.
Except as otherwise provided herein, the powers, duties, responsibilities and limitations of fire chiefs as described in sections 42 and 43 of chapter 48 of the General Laws, shall apply to the chief.
Approved, January 10, 2013.