ARTICLE IDisciplinary Procedure (§ 23-1 — § 23-5)
§ 23-3Procedure for hearing disciplinary charges.
The Board of Trustees of the Village of Blasdell hereby finds that, in order to exercise its administrative responsibilities for the operation of the Village of Blasdell Volunteer Fire Department, it is necessary to establish a due-process procedure for the hearing of charges of alleged misconduct or incompetence by a member of the Village of Blasdell Volunteer Fire Department. In that existing provisions of law authorizing sanctions against a member of a Volunteer Fire Department are limited solely to a removal proceeding, the adoption of this procedure will permit the Village Board to impose an appropriate penalty, short of a removal, should a member of the Department be found guilty of misconduct or incompetence.
As used in this Article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The Village of Blasdell Board of Trustees.
- The Village of Blasdell Volunteer Fire Department.
- Any member of the Village of Blasdell Volunteer Fire Department.
- Any individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, public agency or public or private organization.
Any person may draw to the attention of a member of the Board or the entire Board, in writing or otherwise, the facts or circumstances surrounding the conduct of a member of the Village of Blasdell Volunteer Fire Department which may constitute misconduct or incompetence on the part of a member. The Village Board, by majority vote, may prefer charges against a member of the Department, alleging incompetency or misconduct. A member against whom disciplinary action is proposed shall be given written notice of the charge or charges and specifications and shall be allowed at least 10 working days to respond to the charges in writing. A member against whom charges are preferred shall have the right to be represented by another and shall be allowed to call witnesses in his or her behalf. The burden of proving incompetency or misconduct shall be upon the Board.
Compliance with technical rules of evidence shall not be required. Pending a disciplinary hearing and determination of disciplinary charges, the member against whom charges have been preferred may be suspended, by majority vote of the Board, as a member of the Village of Blasdell Volunteer Fire Department. Unless delayed by request of the member charged, the hearing on charges filed against a member shall be held within 30 business days of the date on which charges were filed. No disciplinary proceeding shall be commenced more than 18 months after the alleged misconduct or incompetency has been brought to the attention of the Board. This limitation shall not apply where the alleged incompetency or misconduct would constitute a crime if proven in a court of appropriate jurisdiction.
The Village Board shall hold a hearing upon the charges presented against the member and shall make a determination, by majority vote, as to the guilt or innocence of the member charged. As an alternative, the Board may designate the Board of Fire Commissioners to conduct the hearing, to make a record of the hearing and, after the conclusion of the hearing, to make a recommendation to the Board as to the guilt or innocence of the member. The Village Board shall receive such recommendation for review and make a determination by majority vote as to guilt or innocence of the member charged. Should the Village Board contradict the determination made by the hearing officer, such determination shall be in writing. In the event that the member is determined to be guilty of alleged misconduct or incompetency, discipline shall be in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Board of Fire Commissioners, subject to approval of the Village of Blasdell Board of Trustees.
The procedure set forth in this Article shall be utilized only in the event that a majority of the Board might seek to impose a suspension upon a member for misconduct or incompetency, which shall be proven by a preponderance of evidence entered upon the hearing record.
As to any other adverse action taken by the Board against a member of the Department, including but not limited to a written reprimand, such member may request a hearing before the Board to address the action taken by the Board, if such has not previously been provided.
A member of the Village of Blasdell Volunteer Fire Department who may be aggrieved by a final determination of the Board in the exercise of its authority pursuant to this Article may institute a judicial proceeding in accordance with the provisions of Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules.