CHAPTER 381

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 790

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 16, CHAPTER 66 OF THE DELAWARE CODE, RELATING TO THE APPOINTMENT AND AUTHORITY OF THE STATE FIRE PREVENTION COMMISSION.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend Title 16, Chapter 66, Section 6601 by deleting said section in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"§6601. State Fire Prevention Commission - Appointment; Qualifications; Members To Serve Without Compensation.

(a) The State Fire Prevention Commission shall consist of seven persons who shall be qualified by experience and training to deal with the matters which are the responsibilities of the Commission. Three members of the Commission shall be appointed by the Governor and shall be representatives of industry from New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County. Three members, one from each county, shall be members of paid or volunteer fire companies and shall be appointed by the Governor from a list of three names of members in good standing submitted by the Volunteer Firemen's Association of the county in which a vacancy exists. The seventh member of the Commission shall be the immediate past President of the State Volunteer Firemen's Association and shall be appointed by the Governor.

(b) Members may be removed by the Governor for continued neglect of the duties required by this Chapter, or for refusal to act, misconduct, incompetency or other sufficient cause.

(c) Members of the Commission shall be appointed to serve for six year terms, but no member may be appointed to more than two successive full terms. Succeeding appointments shall be made, and any vacancy on the Commission, shall be filled for the duration of the term, in the same manner as the prior appointment.

(d) Members shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties."

Section 2. Amend Title 16, Chapter 66, Section 6602 by deleting said section in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"§6602. Same - Organization and Meetings.

(a) The State Fire Prevention Commission shall select a Chairman and Vice-Chairman from among its members and shall hold regular meetings at least once a month. Special meetings may be called by the Chairman, by the Vice-Chairman in the absence of the Chairman, or by three members of the Commission.

(b) No business shall be transacted by the State Fire Prevention Commission in the absence of a quorum which shall be four members, one of which must be the Chairman or Vice-Chairman."

Section 3. Amend Title 16, Chapter 66, Section 6605 by deleting said section in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"§6605. Same - Powers in Conduct of Public Hearing.

For the purpose of any public hearing or inquiry made under this chapter, the Commission or any subcommittee of the Commission shall have the power to summon witnesses and documents and administer oaths for the purpose of giving of testimony, and issue orders requiring strict compliance with the decisions made under this chapter."

Section 4. Amend Title 16, Chapter 66, Section 6619 by deleting said section in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:

"§6619. State Fire Prevention Commission - Powers To Authorize New Fire Companies and Substations; Resolve Boundary and Other Disputes; Prohibit Cessation of Necessary Fire Protection Services.

(a) The State Fire Prevention Commission with the advice of the Advisory Board, is empowered to promulgate, amend and repeal regulations related to the exercise of Commission powers and responsibilities defined in this section.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, the Commission shall determine whether any new fire companies or substations shall be authorized in any part of the State. In making such determination the Commission shall consider among other things the ability, financial or otherwise, of the company seeking authorization to maintain an effective fire company and the fire protection needs of the area involved. The Commission, however, shall not authorize the establishment of a new fire company within four miles of an existing fire company unless the Commission determines that an existing company is not reasonably equipped, manned, organized, financed or disciplined to deliver, or is not actually delivering, adequate fire protection in accordance with recognized safety standards to the area it serves.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, the Commission shall have authority to prohibit the suspension of fire protection services in this State by any fire company or substation thereof when the ability, financial or otherwise, of the company or substation seeking to suspend such service does not warrant such suspension. In making this determination the Commission shall consider, among other things, the fire protection needs of the area involved, whether the company or substation seeking to suspend fire protection services is inadequately financed, equipped, manned, organized or disciplined, and whether a new fire company should be authorized to deliver fire protection services to the area.

(3) The Commission shall have authority to confirm the established geographical boundaries of areas served by all existing fire companies in the State and to resolve boundary disputes between or among such fire companies.

(4) The Commission shall have authority to enter binding orders resolving disputes or grievances within or between fire companies.

(b) The Delaware Volunteer Firemen's Association shall designate from its members a nine member Advisory Board to advise and make recommendations to the State Fire Prevention Commission in connection with the Commission's responsibilities under this section. The Advisory Board shall consist of the President, First Vice President, Second Vice president and the six members of the Board of Directors, excluding the immediate past President who serves as a Commissioner, of the Delaware Volunteer Firemen's Association.

(c) Subsections (a) (1) and (a) (2) of this Section shall not be applied with respect to any fire company in municipalities with a population greater than 50,000 as established in the official 1980 federal census."

Section 5. Amend Title 18, Chapter 88, by adding thereto a new Section 8821 to read as follows:

"§6821. Injunctive Relief.

The Fire Prevention Commission may in its discretion bring an action in the Court of Chancery to temporarily restrain or enjoin any act or practice which constitutes a violation of an order of the Commission or any of provision of this Chapter and to enforce compliance with any order of the Commission or provision of this Chapter."

Section 6. On the effective date of this Act the terms of office of present members of the State Fire Prevention Commission shall be modified to expire in accordance with the following schedule:

(1) Fire Service Representative from New Castle County - August 1, 1982

(2) Fire Service Representative from Kent County - August 1,1988

(3) Fire Service Representative from Sussex County - August 1, 1983

(4) Industry Representatve from New Castle County - August 1, 1985

(5) Industry Representative from Kent County - August 1, 1987

(8) Industry Representative from Sussex County - August 1, 1984

Succeeding appointments whenever made in each respective year shall be effective August 1 of that year.

Section 7. Within 30 days after the effective date of this Act, the State Fire Prevention Commission with the advice of the Advisory Board shall promulgate regulations establishing a process for resolving fire company disputes or grievances at the local level with ultimate appeal to and review by the Commission.

Approved July 9, 1982.