[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Seward as Ch. 7, Art. 1, of the 1976 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The municipality operates the Municipal Fire Department through the Municipal Fire Chief and Firemen. The governing body, for the purpose of defraying the cost of management, maintenance, and improving the Fire Department, may each year levy a tax not exceeding the maximum limits prescribed by state law on the actual valuation of all real estate and personal property within the municipality that is subject to taxation. The revenue from said tax shall be known as the "Fire Department Fund." The fund shall be at all times in the possession of the Municipal Treasurer.
In addition to the above, the Fire Department is authorized to enter into agreement with the appropriate Rural Fire District for the mutual aid and protection of the residents of both the City and the Rural Fire District. The agreement so entered into shall be on file at the office of the Municipal Clerk for public inspection at any reasonable time.
(Neb. RS 16-222, 18-1201)
The Fire Chief shall manage the Fire Department and it shall be his duty to inform the governing body when any of the fire engines, hose, ladders, or other apparatus needs repair. Upon the written consent and directive of the governing body, the Fire Chief shall cause the repair, improvement, or maintenance of the equipment and shall personally supervise and approve of the same. It shall be the duty of the Fire Chief to come before the governing body at the regular meeting in January of each year to give an annual report to the governing body of the general condition and the proposed additions or improvements recommended by him.
In addition to such other duties as may be performed by the Fire Chief, he or she shall keep and maintain full and complete records regarding the twelve-month period ending 30 days prior to the annual report of the Chief to the City Council as provided for in Subsection C of this section. Such records include, but are not limited to, the number of volunteers in active volunteer service providing emergency response services to the City, including their ages, the amount and type of training received by each volunteer during the course of his or her time of service as an active volunteer, the number of new volunteers recruited during such period, the number of volunteers who ceased to be active volunteers during that period, the basic information regarding each volunteer specified in Neb. RS 35-1309.01, the number and nature of calls or requests for emergency services, the response time for each call, to be calculated from the time of receipt of the dispatch to the time of arrival of the first fire or rescue emergency response vehicle at the site of the request, the number of volunteers responding to each call, and the time each call was received. The City Council may specify any additional information to be gathered or collected by the Fire Chief or as the Fire Chief may recommend.
The Fire Chief shall collate and analyze the information gathered pursuant to Subsection A of this section and shall, no less than once in any twelve-month period, on a date specified by the City Council, provide a report to the City Council at a regular Council meeting on the prior year's experience regarding the volunteer department and shall make such recommendations as he or she deems appropriate.
All apparatus and appliances for the extinguishment of fire belonging to this City shall be under the direct and immediate control of the Chief of the Fire Department and of the several fire companies to which such appliances have been delivered. No person shall, under any pretense whatsoever, remove any of such appliances from the place or house where it is kept by its respective company, except the members of such company, without the order of one of the properly authorized officers of such company, the Chief of the Department or someone authorized to act in his stead. It shall be the duty of the aforesaid fire companies to keep all apparatus and hose furnished by the City in a serviceable and clean condition and in such a state as to be of immediate use in case of fire.
No obligation, except in exigencies and with regard to minor expenditures, shall be incurred on behalf of the Fire Department unless authorized by the Council.
No person, other than the Fire Chief and the members of the Fire Department, shall, at any time, molest, handle or interfere with any of the fire apparatus belonging to the City.
[Amended 10-1-1985 by Ord. No. 15-85; 8-3-2004 by Ord. No. 18-04]
The Fire Department shall consist of so many members as may be decided by the City Council. The members may organize themselves in any way they may decide, subject to the review of the City Council. The Fire Chief shall appoint no more than 25 members for each Fire Department company, subject to the review and approval of the City Council. All vacancies shall be filled in this manner.
All members of the Fire Department shall be subject to such rules and regulations, and shall perform such duties, as may be prescribed or required of them by the Fire Chief or the City Council. The members of the Fire Department shall, during the time of a fire or great public danger, have and exercise the powers and duties of police officers and shall have full power and authority to arrest all persons guilty of any violation of the Municipal Code or the laws of the State of Nebraska.
Members of the Fire Department may hold meetings and engage in social activities with the approval of the City Council. The Secretary shall, upon request, keep a record of all meetings and shall make a report to the City Council of all meetings and activities of the Fire Department.
Members of the Fire Department shall be considered to be employees of the City for the purpose of providing them with workers' compensation and other benefits. The City Council may compensate or reimburse any member of the Fire Department for expenses incurred in carrying out his or her duties in an amount set by resolution.
The City Council shall purchase and maintain in force a policy of group term life insurance to age 65 covering the lives of all the City's active volunteer fire and rescue personnel, except that when any such person serves more than one municipality or rural or suburban fire protection district, the policy shall be purchased only by the first municipality or district which he or she serves. The policy shall provide a minimum death benefit of $10,000 for death from any cause and shall, at the option of the insured, be convertible to a permanent form of life insurance at age 65. The coverage of such policy shall terminate as to any individual who ceases to be an active volunteer member of the Fire Department of the City. (Neb. RS 35-108)
For purposes of Neb. RS 33-139.01, volunteer firefighters and rescue squad members testifying as witnesses in that capacity alone shall not be deemed employees of the City.
(Neb. RS 33-139.01, 18-2538, 35-101 through 35-103, 35-108)
It shall be the duty of the Fire Department to use all proper means for the extinguishment of fires; to protect property within the municipality; and to secure the observance of all ordinances, laws, and other rules and regulations with respect to fires and fire prevention.
Upon the permission of the Mayor or Fire Chief, such fire equipment of the municipality as may be designated by the governing body as rural equipment may be used beyond the corporate limits to extinguish reported fires.
The firefighters of the municipality shall be considered as acting in the performance and within the scope of their duties in fighting fire or saving property or life outside the corporate limits of the municipality when directed to do so by the Mayor or Chief of the Fire Department or some person authorized to act for such Chief and, in so doing, may take such fire equipment of the municipality as may be designated by the governing body.
Any official of the municipal Fire Department shall have the power during the time of a fire to cause the removal of any private or public property whenever it shall become necessary to do so for the preservation of such property from fire, to prevent the spreading of fire, or to protect adjoining property. The officials may direct the municipal firefighters to remove any building, structure, or fence for the purpose of checking the progress of any fire, and the official in charge of the fire-fighting effort shall have the power to blow up, or cause to be blown up, with powder or otherwise, any building or erection during the progress of a fire for the purpose of extinguishing or checking the same.
The Municipal Fire Department shall hold departmental fire drills at least six times per year at such times as the members of the Fire Department shall decide.
The Municipal Fire Department shall have the right-of-way upon any street, alley, or highway when going to or returning from fires or drills had under the direction of, or by order of, the Fire Department. When fires occur, the Fire Chief, Chief of Police or any officer specially deputized shall have the power to close any street or highway or public place adjacent to such fire.
It shall be the duty of the Fire Chief, when directed to do so by the governing body, to inspect or cause to be inspected by Fire Department officers, members, or some other official, as often as may be necessary, all buildings, premises and public thoroughfares, except the interiors of private dwellings, for the purpose of ascertaining and causing to be corrected any conditions liable to create a fire hazard. The inspection shall be of the storage, sale and use of flammable liquids, combustibles, and explosives; electric wiring and heating; and the means and adequacy of exits, in case of fire in schools, churches, hotels, halls, theaters, factories, hospitals, and all other buildings in which numbers of persons congregate from time to time for any purpose, whether publicly or privately owned; the design, construction, location, installation, and operation of equipment for storing, handling, and utilizing of liquefied petroleum gases, specifying the odorization of said gases and the degree thereof; and chemicals, pyroxylin plastics, nitrocellulose films, or any other hazardous material that may now or hereafter exist. (Neb. RS 81-512)
Upon a finding that the Municipal Code has been violated, the Fire Chief shall notify, or cause to be notified, the owner, occupant, or manager of the premises where a violation has occurred. Notice may be made personally or by delivering a copy to the premises and affixing it to the door of the main entrance of the premises. Whenever it may be necessary to serve such an order upon the owner, such order may be served personally, or by mailing a copy to the owner's last known post office address if the owner is absent from the jurisdiction. Any such order shall be immediately complied with by the owner, occupant, or manager of the premises or building. The owner, occupant, or manager may, within five days after such order by the Chief of the Fire Department or his agent, appeal the order with the governing body, requesting a review, and it shall be the duty of the governing body to hear the same within not less than five days nor more than 10 days from the time when the request was filed in writing with the Municipal Clerk. The governing body shall then affirm, modify, or rescind the order as safety and justice may require and the decision shall then be final, subject only to any remedy which the aggrieved person may have at law or in equity. The order shall be modified or rescinded only where it is evident that reasonable safety exists and that conditions necessitate a variance due to the probable hardship in complying literally with the order of the Fire Chief. A copy of any decision so made shall be sent to both the Fire Chief and the owner, occupant, or manager making the appeal.
It shall be unlawful for any person to falsely personate a fireman by wearing a badge or other apparel usually worn by a fireman for the purpose of obtaining any benefit whatsoever. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit the theatrical representation of a fireman for bona fide entertainment purposes when there is no intent to defraud. (Neb. RS 28-609)
Any official of the municipal Fire Department may command the assistance and services of any person present at a fire to help in extinguishing the fire, or in the removal and protection of property. In the event that a spectator refuses, neglects, or fails to assist the Fire Department after a lawful order to do so, he shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor.
The Municipal Fire Chief or the Assistant Fire Chief shall have the power during the time of a fire and for a period of 36 hours after its extinguishment to arrest any suspected arsonist, or other person hindering or resisting the fire-fighting effort, or any person who conducts himself in a noisy or disorderly manner. The officials shall be severally vested with the usual powers and authority of Municipal Policemen to command all persons to assist them in the performance of their duties.
It shall be the duty of the Fire Department to investigate, or cause to be investigated, the cause, origin, and circumstances of every fire occurring in the municipality in which property has been destroyed or damaged. All fires of unknown origin shall be reported, and such officers shall especially make an investigation and report as to whether such fire was the result of carelessness, accident, or design. Such investigation shall be begun immediately after the occurrence of such fire, and the State Fire Marshal shall have the right to supervise and direct the investigation whenever he deems it expedient or necessary. The officer making the investigation of fires occurring within the municipality shall immediately notify the State Fire Marshal and shall, within one week of the occurrence of the fire, furnish him with a written statement of all the facts relating to the cause and origin of the fire, and such further information as he may call for. (Neb. RS 81-506)