[HISTORY: Article I §§ 11-1—11-14 adopted March 3, 1999 by Ord. No. 7-1999, Article II §§ 11-21—11-27 adopted July 6, 1999 by Ord. No. 20-1999, as amended through December 31, 2016. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This Ordinance No. 7-1999 governing the Fire Department of the City of South Amboy is hereby created and established with jurisdictional boundaries co-extensive with the boundaries of the City of South Amboy. The Fire Department shall consist of the Independence Engine and Hose Company, Progressive Fire Company, Mechanicsville, Hose Company, Protection Engine Company, and the Enterprise Snorkel Company.
The Fire Department shall consist of 180 members and no person shall be considered an active member of the Fire Department or entitled to any privileges as such unless his or her name has been submitted to and approved by the Council. Such membership shall also be subject to the approval of the New Jersey State Firemen's Association.
An applicant for membership to a Fire Company shall complete an application, including background information and submit the completed application to the Fire Company. The applicant shall consent and authorize a background check by the City and the South Amboy Police Department. The results of the background check shall be submitted by the South Amboy Police Department to a Fire Company and reported to the Mayor and Council. Upon successfully completing the background check, the applicant shall complete and submit to the Mayor and Council, a New Jersey Fireman's Application. The application shall either be accepted or rejected by the Council. If accepted, the application shall be filed with the New Jersey State Firemen's Association. Upon the New Jersey State Firemen's Association issuing a line number for the applicant, the Fire Company may accept the applicant as a probationary member. Thereafter, the applicant shall enroll and complete the training as set forth in subsection 11-2.2. When the applicant is, thereafter, duly qualified, pursuant to the laws of the State of New Jersey, and issued a New Jersey Division of Fire Safety Identification Number, the applicant may be accepted as a regular member of the Fire Company. (Ord. No. 14-2009)
All members of the South Amboy Fire Department shall be required within two years of their approval for membership to enroll in and satisfactorily complete the NFPA 1001 Training Course or New Jersey Certified Firefighter One Training Course or show proof of the same. Failure to satisfactorily complete the above within two years by each member shall result in automatic termination of their membership in the South Amboy Fire Department.
The Fire Chief, First Assistant Chief and Second Assistant Chief must be residents of the City of South Amboy. All new members of the South Amboy Fire Department must reside within a one mile radius of the border of the City of South Amboy. Present members living outside the one mile radius shall have one year from the passage of Ordinance No. 7-1999 to move to within the one mile radius of the City required of new members and failure to do so shall result in automatic termination of their membership in the South Amboy Fire Department.
No person shall be a member of the South Amboy Fire Department unless such person has attained the age of 18 years.
All new members are required to pass a Physical Examination before they become a regular member of the South Amboy Fire Department by the City Doctor.
There are hereby established the offices of Fire Chief, First Assistant Fire Chief, and Second Assistant Fire Chief.
All terms of office are to run from January 1 to December 31. Election for the Fire Chief, First Assistant Fire Chief and Second Assistant Fire Chief shall be held on the first Monday in December and on that day every year thereafter. (Ord. No. 30-2001, Ord. No. 1-2002, Ord. No. 1-2012)
The nominee for the office of Second Assistant Fire Chief must have served through the ranks of his respective Company and must have 10 years of service in the South Amboy Fire Department as a regular member. The nominee must have satisfactorily completed a Fire Officer Training Course and meet State Laws.
If any of the officers other than that of Fire Chief shall for any reason become vacant during the term of his office, the vacancy shall be filled at the next regular meeting of the Company by a member of the Company in which the vacancy occurs.
The Captains of the Fire Companies in the "Pass" mode, as established in subsection 11-3.3, shall be invited to participate in all official fire chiefs meetings of the City of South Amboy Fire Department.
If the office of Fire Chief becomes vacant before the expiration of the term of office of Fire Chief, then such vacancy shall be filled by an individual who before held the office of Fire Chief from the same Company.
The automatic rotation of Superior Officers as provided for in subsection 11-3.2 is hereby established in the following order and will remain in this order unless rescinded or changed by the Mayor and City Council:
Only those active members whose names appear on the roll of firemen submitted to and approved by the Council, up to and inclusive of its first regular meeting in the month of December immediately prior to the election, shall be eligible to vote at any authorized election.
The election of all officers of the Department shall be confirmed by the Council prior to their assuming office, but such confirmation shall not be withheld except upon filing of charges and public hearing on the sole questions of qualification for office.
The members of each Company shall elect from their own members every year in November or December the following: Captain, First Lieutenant, Second Lieutenant, Secretary, Treasurer, Trustees, and any other officers they deem proper.
The members of each Company shall have the power to make their own by-laws, with the cooperation of the Mayor and Council.
The South Amboy Fire Department has the power to make their own rules and regulations subject to approval of the Mayor and Council. All Fire Department members are bound by same.
The members of each Company may recommend to suspend or expel by a 2/3 vote of its members present at any regular meeting, a member for breach of by-laws or rules and regulations of the respective company; breach of decorum at meetings; disorderly or improper conduct tending to bring ridicule or discredit to his company; neglect of duty or for other good cause. Such recommendation shall follow the procedure outlined in Section 11-11. Nothing in this section shall prevent the Mayor and Council from taking such direct actions as may be necessary to institute procedures or to suspend a member as provided in subsequent sections of this Article I.
The Chief or his/her assistants may suspend a member for just cause until the next regular Company meeting for which the member belongs. The Company then may take direct actions as may be necessary to institute disciplinary procedures or to suspend a member as provided in subsequent sections of this Article I.
The Secretary of each Company shall keep a correct roll of the members of his company, a record of the proceedings of its meeting, and shall, on every occasion when the Company is called together, transmit in writing to the Council the name of any member who dies, resigns, or is expelled, within 30 days of such death, resignation or expulsion.
It shall also be the responsibility to keep, or cause to be kept, an accurate record in the books provided for that purpose, the names of the officers and members of the Fire Department; showing all appointments, transfers, resignations and removals, the names of the members of each Company, the date of the commencement of their terms of service, and any other particulars that may be necessary and proper. The Secretary shall transmit a copy of any records to the Fire Chief, when needed.
The firemen shall be divided into as many companies and kinds of companies as the Governing Body shall order and direct and until further action of the Governing Body, the companies shall be known and shall consist of the following active members:
In addition to its active members, each company may have exempt social and Buffalo members as permitted in their Company by-laws, except no more than four Buffalo members per company. A "Buffalo" member is a non-certified member in training and shall pass a physical examination, as required by the City.
It shall be the duty of the fire companies to attend to their respective fire engines or other fire apparatus committed to their charge and to the building in which they are kept. However, nothing herein contained shall be construed as affecting the right of the Governing Body to control the apparatus and the occupancy of fire houses and buildings belonging to the City.
No person shall become an active member of the Fire Department unless he performs the duties of a fireman as prescribed in this Article I and abides by the by-laws of his Company and the rules and regulations promulgated for the regulation of the Fire Department of the City of South Amboy.
The Chief shall have sole command over all persons attached to the Department, and shall direct their operations through their Company Officers at all fires in order to prevent the destruction of life and property. In all cases of fire, he shall take prompt and efficient measures and use the means of the Department to extinguish them, and he shall also have the sole command over all persons aiding and assisting the Department. The Chief shall also have the power to call out for review an inspection in October of each year all persons belonging to the Department.
To aid the Department in fulfilling its duties to the City and the public, the Chief may establish divisions within the Department. These divisions may address public safety, firefighting, training of personnel, first aid, and the day-to-day operation of the Department.
In the absence of the Chief and his Assistants, the first arriving Officer shall be in charge.
The Chief shall also keep, or cause to be kept, a record of all alarms of fires within the City of South Amboy, their causes, and the description of property damaged or destroyed. At a regular meeting of the Governing Body in December of each year, he shall present a report showing the number of alarms of fire and the number of fires which have occurred during the preceding year, the amount of loss by fire, as nearly as can be ascertained, and the condition of the fire houses and other apparatus, together with an annual inventory of each company's apparatus, equipment and supplies, with recommendations he may deem necessary and proper.
The Captains and Lieutenants shall aid the Chief in the discharge of his duties when called upon to protect life and property. They shall obey the direction of the Chief or acting Chief, whose judgment and authority shall be deemed paramount and conclusive. It shall also be the duty of the Captains and Lieutenants to assist the Chief to maintain proper discipline and conduct among all members of the Department in going to, working at, or returning from fires, and at all times when on duty.
The Captain of each Company shall be responsible for the proper care of the fire apparatus and any equipment belonging to the Company under his command. It shall be his duty or, in his absence, the duty of the Lieutenant to direct his Company, or any portion thereof, at least once a month during the year, to examine and where practicable to test its apparatus and knowledge of location of water supplies. He shall report any defect or necessary repairs to the superior officer of his Company.
It shall be the responsibility of the Captain of each Company to examine the fire apparatus of his Company at least once each month, and to keep a record of the condition in which the apparatus is. He is to report to the Fire Chief any repairs that are needed.
It shall be the duty of all firemen, whenever fire or emergency breaks out in the City of South Amboy, to report to their fire apparatus immediately upon the alarms indicating a fire or emergency or when a general alarm is sounded. They shall convey their apparatus to or near the place of the fire or emergency, and under the direction of the Chief, Captain or the Lieutenants, work and manage the apparatus with all their skill and power. When the fire or emergency is declared over, they shall report to the Chief, and upon his direction, return their apparatus to their proper places. Only duly qualified and active members shall respond to fires and other emergencies.
All Companies shall respond to fire alarms and shall directly be under the command of the Chiefs, or the Officer of the Fire Company on the scene.
Whenever it is alleged that a member of the Fire Department has committed any misconduct as specified in subsections 11-4.4 or 11-4.5, the following procedure shall be followed for the purpose of disciplining the member.
The Chief, Assistant Chiefs, Captain, First Lieutenant and Second Lieutenant shall verbally report such misconduct at the next regular meeting of the Company to which the member belongs.
After proper discussion, the Company shall vote on whether the misconduct is serious enough to warrant filing formal written charge as per subsection 11-4.4.
If 2/3 of the members of the Company present at the meeting vote in favor of the filing of formal charges, the complaint shall be prepared by the Secretary, sworn to by the complainant, and copies filed with the Company and with the City Clerk. The member shall be suspended until the charges are resolved.
A copy of the charges shall be sent to the member by the Secretary of the Company by certified mail, return receipt requested, together with a formal notice giving him at least 15 days notice that a formal hearing shall be held on the charges by this Company at its next regular meeting.
At the formal hearing, the complainant and his witness shall give their testimony before the Company and the member shall be permitted to give their testimony and that of his witnesses before the Company and a 2/3 vote of the members of the Company present at the meeting shall determine the guilt or innocence of the member, and, if the member is found guilty, the suspension or expulsion to be imposed.
The Secretary of the Company shall forward a letter setting forth the decision of the Company and, if the member is found guilty, the suspension or expulsion recommended, to the member and the City Clerk by certified mail, return requested.
Upon receipt of the notice of suspension or expulsion, the member shall have five days in which to file with the City Clerk a notice of appeal from the action of the Company, which notice of appeal shall act as a stay of suspension or expulsion. Should no appeal be filed, the suspension or expulsion shall become final upon the expiration of the five business days and the City Clerk shall notify the Secretary of the Company and the Mayor and City Council to that effect.
Should a notice of appeal be filed within the required time, the Clerk shall notify the Secretary of the Company and the Mayor and Council of such appeal. The appeal shall proceed before the Mayor under subsection 11-11.2B.
Whenever it shall appear that a member of the Fire Department may be guilty of any misconduct specified in subsection 11-4.3 and it further appears to the Mayor that either immediate steps must be taken to insure the safety and wellbeing of the community and to insure adequate fire protection for the community or, in the event it shall appear to the Mayor that appropriate disciplinary procedures have not been conducted pursuant to subsection 11-4.4, or an appeal is timely filed under subsection 11-11.1, the Mayor shall have the following powers and all such other powers as may be granted to the Mayor pursuant to law:
The Mayor shall have the immediate power to suspend any member of any Fire Department for such period of time as it deems appropriate subject to the disciplinary procedures set forth below. All suspensions and disciplinary actions shall be reported to the Fire Chief immediately.
The Mayor may initiate a Notice of Suspension or Expulsion by sending a notice thereof to the individual member and the Fire Company involved therein. Within 15 days of the mailing of the notice or the filing of an appeal, the Mayor shall appoint a Hearing Officer and shall notify the subject member and the Fire Company, through its Secretary, of the appointment. It shall be the duty of the Hearing Officer to arrange for a hearing within 30 days of his or her appointment and at which time and place the testimony of the parties and their witnesses shall be heard. The Hearing Officer, after conducting the hearing, shall make findings of fact and conclusions of law and, if appropriate, recommend a penalty to the Mayor. Within 30 days after receiving the Hearing Officer's report and recommendation, the Mayor shall either accept, reject or modify them.
All notices of suspension or expulsion shall be served by the Chief and/or the City Clerk, personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested, and by regular mail at the member's address, as it appears on the Company's membership roll.
No fire engine or other apparatus belonging to the City of South Amboy shall be taken outside the limits of the City without the consent of the Fire Chief or Assistant Chiefs except in an emergency outside the City limits. Under such circumstances, the Mayor, any member of the Department of Public Safety, the Chief or the Acting Chief may permit the apparatus to go outside the City limits to render aid.
It shall be the duty of the Secretary of each Company to submit to the Mayor and Council at its regular meeting in December, and at such other times as he shall, by resolution, be required to do so, a complete list of the names of the members of his Company, which shall be signed by the Captain and attested by the Secretary of the Company. The list, after approval by the Council, shall be filed in the Office of the Clerk.
In addition to the volunteer members of the Fire Department, the Mayor and Council may appoint persons to perform work in and about the municipally owned Fire Houses and for the care, maintenance and repair of fire apparatus, and may prescribe their duties and fix their compensation.
A Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) is herewith created in accordance with Chapter 388 of the Laws of 1997, to reward members of the volunteer firefighting and first aid organizations for their loyal, diligent and devoted services to the residents of the City of South Amboy.
The LOSAP shall provide for fixed annual contributions to a deferred income account for each volunteer member that meets the criteria set forth below; that such contributions shall be made in accordance with a plan that shall be established by the City of South Amboy pursuant to P.L. 1997, c.388; and that such plan shall be administered in accordance with the laws of the State of New Jersey, the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, and this Ordinance, No. 20-1999.
The LOSAP shall provide for annual contributions to each eligible member that meets the criteria pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A: 14-183, et seq.
The maximum base amount of the annual contribution for an active member is $600 as approved by referendum; (Ord. No. 20-2009, adopted 10-7-2009; Ord. No. 5-2018, adopted 3-21-18)
The LOSAP base contribution shall be increased to the maximum cumulative percentage increase for Municipal LOSAP's as approved by the Director of the Division of Local Government Services since the time the award was last set, October, 1999. The increase for CY 2018 (for use in CY 2018) is 0.8% for municipal (November) LOSAP's (Added by Ord. No. 5-2018, adopted 3-21-18);
The annual LOSAP contribution shall be automatically increased each year by the cost of living increase under the CPI as approved by the Director of the Division of Local Government Services. (Added by Ord. No. 5-2018, adopted 3-21-18)
The LOSAP shall provide for contributions as credit for no more than zero years of prior years service for each eligible volunteer.
Each active volunteer member shall be credited with points for volunteer services provided to the volunteer fire company/first aid organization in accordance with the Schedule appended to Ordinance No. 20-1999.
Editor's Note: The Schedule of Points can be found on file at the City Offices.
Ordinance No. 20-1999 was approved by the voters as a public question at the General Election and took effect immediately upon final passage and publication as provided by law.