Governor Signs Galef/LaValle Legislation to Remove Fire Commissioners Who Are Derelict in Their Duties

August 18, 2011

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef announced that the governor signed legislation A.4858/S.3101, Chapter 462 which removes fire district commissioners from office if they fail to attend commissioner meetings. The law will take effect immediately.

“I initiated this legislation because of discussions I had with firefighters who were concerned that some fire district commissioners were not being held accountable for their lack of attendance at public meetings. Fire district commissioners are responsible to the public, and should not be derelict in their duties as public servants. These duties include attending commissioner meetings, an important part of their job,” Galef said. “Fire commissioners make the key decisions for the fire and emergency medical departments throughout New York State, and decide how to best utilize their public resources. How can they be smart, community-minded decision makers if they are not attending these meetings where they receive important public input that could directly impact their decisions?”

“Fire commissioners sit on boards that have the authority to raise taxes and approve budgets to cover expenses including insurance, payroll, pensions and the purchase of trucks, and other equipment,” LaValle said. Commission members, LaValle explained, set policy for fire districts, and hire staff who maintain firehouses and dispatch calls. “This legislation simply provides a procedure for removal of any fire district commissioner who has excessive unexcused absences, and thereby has not fulfilled his or her duties to the public they serve. Commissioners have an obligation to the district, citizens of the district and the dedicated volunteers who serve their communities,” LaValle concluded.

“The fire district commissioner meetings are held once a month and are open to the public. The commissioners sit on boards which impact taxes, budgets, and expenditures of these public funds. This legislation will ensure that the people on the front lines are knowledgeable, and able to perform their jobs when needed, and are fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility to the public by staying in touch with those impacted,” concluded Galef.