[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Somerville 12-19-49 as Ord. No. 413. amended in its entirety 8-6-2018 by Ord. No. 2553. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The Somerville Fire Department (SFD) is hereby established in and for the Borough of Somerville, in the County of Somerset, whose purpose shall be to protect lives and property of all residents and businesses in the Borough from the devastation of fire, chemical spills, vehicle crashes, natural disasters, and other emergencies 24 hours a day. The SFD will provide fire and rescue services such as extinguishing fire, general fire-related rescue activities, prevention of fire (in accordance with § 80-1), maintenance of equipment and apparatus, and administration of an efficient organization to implement and carry out the primary purposes herein enumerated. The SFD will provide the highest level of fire and rescue services with maximum efficiency within the limits of existing resources, and will maintain a high standard of training and education for the Department and the community. The SFD pledges to provide these services to the best of its ability and in a professional manner at all times.
The Somerville Fire Department shall consist of the Fire Committee of the Council of the Borough, a Chief, a Deputy Chief, two Assistant Chiefs, the members of Somerville Engine Co. No. 1, Central Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1, West End Hose Co. No. 3, Lincoln Hose Co. No. 4 and such additional members as the Borough Council may from time to time hereafter accept and approve.
Applicants of the Somerville Fire Department must complete an application that will include a background check requirement and medical requirement. The completed application with all required documents shall be presented to the Administrator for consideration by the Borough Council for membership. Membership shall be approved by Council resolution.
The Chief, Deputy Chief and Assistant Chiefs shall be appointed by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by the Council, for terms of at least two years each and until their successors shall be appointed and qualify. The terms of these officers shall run from January 1 of the year in which they are appointed and be continued for at least two years thereafter and until their successors are appointed. Any vacancy occurring in any office during this period shall be filled by the next person in line for said office. If there is no person in line for said office, said office shall be filled temporarily until January 1 of the following year. In making these appointments, the Mayor and Council shall take into consideration the recommendations of the Fire Committee. Every two years, beginning on January 1 of the year in which the appointments are made, the chiefs shall rotate in the various companies according to a schedule established by the Mayor and Council. Effective no later than January 1, 2021, the number of chiefs will be reduced to three consisting of the Chief, Deputy Chief, and First Assistant Chief positions. Effective no later than January 1, 2023, the number of chiefs will be reduced to two positions consisting of the Chief and Deputy Chief positions.
The membership of the Somerville Fire Department may be divided into four companies. They may organize, adopt bylaws consistent with municipal ordinances or state laws and may function for social purposes. Each of the companies shall choose a Captain and a First Lieutenant. They may also choose a Second Lieutenant. These positions will be chosen at each company's final meeting each year to take office on January 1 of the following year. The Secretary of each company shall, within 24 hours of their company's final annual meeting, provide to the Board of Engineers, in writing, the names of the officers so chosen, together with a list of the members of said company. The officers shall have authority over the membership in the operations of the Department for the purpose mentioned in §§ 18-8 and 18-9 of this chapter.
Applications for membership shall be accepted from persons between the ages of 18 and prior to their 46th birthday at the time of joining to qualify benefits under the New Jersey Firemen's Association.
There shall be a Board of Engineers within the Somerville Fire Department, composed of the Chief, Deputy Chief and the Assistant Chiefs of the Department, which shall hold regular monthly meetings with the Fire Committee of the Council and advise with the Chief and the Fire Committee on the operation of the Department and the care of the equipment, except as hereinafter specified.
The Fire Committee shall have general responsibility for the Somerville Fire Department and shall have direct oversight of and responsibility for recommending to the Council the apparatus and equipment to be purchased for the use of the Department, and for the maintenance of its apparatus and equipment. In recommending to the Council the apparatus and equipment to be purchased for the use of the Department, the Committee shall take into consideration the recommendations of the Board of Engineers.
The Committee is authorized to employ, subject to the approval of the Council, a Superintendent of Fire Maintenance and such other personnel as is necessary to carry out these purposes.
The Chief, Deputy Chief, Assistant Chiefs, Captains, First Lieutenants, and Second Lieutenants shall constitute the officers of the Somerville Fire Department and they shall be responsible for the efficient operation of the Department, except as specified in § 18-7 hereof, and in any and all operations the seniority and superiority of their authority shall be in the order in which they are herein named. In the case of officers of equal rank, seniority and superiority shall be determined by length of service in the Department.
The operations mentioned and referred to in § 18-8 hereof shall include drills, maneuvers and all activities which involve the use of Somerville Fire Department apparatus and equipment, except such operations as are incident to the exercise of the duties of the Fire Committee.
In case of fire or an alarm of fire, the officers of the Somerville Fire Department shall have sole control over all apparatus, equipment and members of the Fire Department and over all other apparatus, equipment and persons assisting. Any member of the Department refusing to obey an officer may be immediately suspended from active service by said officer from the Department by the Board of Engineers as per the Somerville Fire Department Standard Operating Guidelines.
The officers of the Somerville Fire Department shall answer all alarms within the Borough limits and are empowered to take charge of all buildings on fire or in danger of being on fire and may admit or refuse to admit and eject such persons, firemen or others, as they may believe proper to facilitate the extinguishment of the fire and the preservation of life and property.
All members of the Department shall attend all fires and alarms of fire within the Borough limits unless prevented by illness or other unavoidable causes. They shall give their best efforts to the efficient conduct and discharge of their assigned duties and obey all orders of their superior officers in connection with the operations, drills and maneuvers of the Somerville Fire Department.
In the event of frequent alarms, civil disorder or the possibility thereof, hazardous weather, or in the event that the fire alarm system for any reason is not in operation, the Chief may place on duty in any firehouse such members of the Fire Department thereof as deemed necessary for the protection of apparatus, equipment and the firehouse; provided, however, that the decision to place Department members on duty as aforesaid and the length of time during which they shall serve shall be approved by Fire Committee, Mayor, or Borough Administrator. Members assigned to duty under the terms of this subsection shall be compensated by the Borough at the rate determined annually by the Borough Council.
The Chief shall record and make monthly reports to the Council, through the Fire Committee, at the monthly Board of Engineers meetings, of all alarms, fires, drills and maneuvers as well as the condition of the apparatus and equipment of the Somerville Fire Department, in such detail as may be prescribed by the Council on recommendation of the Fire Committee. The Chief shall at least once each year order a public inspection of the personnel, apparatus and equipment of the Department, the expense of which shall be paid by the Borough after approval by the Fire Committee.
There shall be an entity of the Somerville Fire Department known as the "Fire Police" made up of Department members appointed or elected by their respective companies, and sworn as police officers of the Borough. It shall be their duty at and in the vicinity of fires, drills and maneuvers to direct traffic and carry out such orders as ordered by the officers of the Department as outlined in § 18-8 of this chapter. The Fire Police shall hold regular meetings and may choose a Captain, First Lieutenant, Second Lieutenant and Third Lieutenant. These positions will be chosen at the final meeting of the Fire Police each year to take office on January 1 of the following year. All Fire Police elected positions are subject to the approval of the Council. The Captain of the Fire Police shall, within 24 hours of their final annual meeting, provide to the Board of Engineers, in writing, the names of the officers so chosen, together with a list of the members of the Fire Police. All members of the Fire Police, to include Fire Police officers, shall operate under the authority of the Department officers in the operations of the Department for the purpose mentioned in § 18-9 of this chapter.
Somerville Fire Department apparatus and equipment shall be returned to the respective company's firehouses promptly after a fire, drill or maneuver upon order from the officer in charge.
Fire apparatus, in answering an alarm, shall proceed promptly to the place of the fire but shall be driven carefully and in accordance with the state laws governing motor vehicles. In returning from a fire, all traffic rules shall be observed by the driver. No Somerville Fire Department vehicle shall be driven by any member of the Department who is not authorized to operate said vehicle.
The Chief of the Somerville Fire Department, with the advice of the Board of Engineers and the consent of the Council, may promulgate such rules as they may deem advisable for the handling of any apparatus or equipment, although the Chief or the officer in charge may order a deviation from such rules if the circumstances of any particular situation seem to warrant such deviation.
No fire company shall take the fire apparatus or equipment in its charge beyond the corporate limits of the Borough for any purpose whatever without permission in writing of the Chief of the Somerville Fire Department, approved by the Council or Borough Administrator; provided, however, that in case of a fire occurring beyond the corporate limits, such permission may be verbal and from the officer in charge. The Chief's vehicle is exempt from this limitation.
The Council may at any time demand and take into its hands and possession any fire apparatus or equipment previously committed to the custody of any company, officer or member of the Somerville Fire Department.
The Council reserves the right to appoint and employ a suitable driver for each fire apparatus in use by the Somerville Fire Department to operate the respective fire apparatuses, but such drivers, when on duty at a fire, or when ordered out to drill, and in all matters relating to the apparatus and equipment, shall obey the orders of the officers of the Department then in command.
In addition to the driver appointed by the Council, which driver shall be designated the "head driver," each company comprising a part of the Department may annually appoint or elect one or more assistant drivers; but no appointment or election of an assistant driver shall become effective until approved by the member of the company who is also a member of the Board of Engineers, and no such appointment shall be for longer than one year.
The Borough has an asset inventory and a resolution that governs the process and dollar amount for asset inventory. In addition to that process, the Captain and/or Lieutenants of every company belonging to the Somerville Fire Department shall, at the first Board of Engineers meeting of each year, deliver to the Chief a full and correct inventory of all the apparatus, equipment, furniture and fixtures in the possession of such company and belonging to the Department. Any failure or refusal on the part of a company to make and deliver such inventory, and any willful incorrectness or misstatement in any such inventory, shall be reported by the Chief to the Council.
The Borough Council has the responsibility of expulsion of members. The process for expulsion and discipline is described in the Somerville Fire Department Standard Operating Guidelines.
Members of the Council and the Mayor shall be entitled to hold positions as active members of any company comprising or part of the Somerville Fire Department except that no member of the Council and the Mayor shall hold position as a member of the Board of Engineers.
No Somerville Fire Department apparatus or equipment shall be used for any mere trill of skill or power or for any purpose whatever except when used in the line of duty prescribed by this chapter, or except by the consent of the Fire Committee. The Chief's vehicle is exempt from this limitation.
Whenever any Somerville Fire Department apparatus or equipment shall need any repairs or alterations, it shall be the duty of the head driver assigned to such apparatus or company officer in charge of the equipment to forthwith report the same to the Chief, who shall report the same to the Fire Committee. No person shall make, suffer or permit any repairs or alterations to be made without the consent of the Board of Engineers.
The Fire Committee of the Council is hereby authorized to make and establish rules and regulations for the proper government of the Somerville Fire Department (not in conflict with the ordinances of the Borough), which rules shall be presented to the Council for approval at the next meeting of the Council following their promulgation, but they shall be in force as soon as announced by the Committee and so continue until approved or disapproved by the Council.
Statement. The Borough of Somerville and the Somerville Fire Department has determined that its residents and business establishments would be served by the creation of a firefighter cadet program pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:14-95 et seq., Junior Firefighter Auxiliary.
Creation. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:14-95, the Borough hereby creates a Junior Firefighter's Auxiliary that shall be commonly known as the Somerville Borough Firefighter's Cadet Program.
Eligibility for membership to the Somerville Borough Firefighter's Cadet Program shall be made available to any person who has reached the age of 16 but has not reached the age of 18 and has obtained permission from his or her parents or legal guardian. The permission shall be in writing and acknowledged or proved in manner required by law.
Members are recognized by the Joint Insurance Fund and are covered in accordance with the funds regulations and limits. Each member shall be provided a copy of the policy as it relates to coverage for the cadets prior to membership.
Rules and regulations governing firefighter cadets:
No cadet shall be required to perform duties which expose the cadet to the same degree of hazard as a regular member of the Department.
No cadet shall be permitted to engage in firefighting or be exposed to an area of a hazardous condition involving the handling of dangerous or poisonous acids or dyes or injurious quantities of toxic or noxious dust, gas, vapors or fumes.
A cadet shall be on probation until the age of 18 and may be expelled from cadets for just cause.
A cadet must comply with Fire Department Standard Operating Guidelines, company bylaws, and other associated Department rules.
The Fire Department shall provide specific direction and the appropriate training to perform the duties assigned to a cadet.
After successful completion of the cadet program and upon reaching the age of 18, a cadet shall be transferred to become a regular member of the Fire Department.
Acceptance to the Department shall be approved by the Somerville Borough Council.