[HISTORY: Adopted by the Mayor and Council of the Borough of Northvale as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Fire prevention — See Ch. 101.
[Adopted 5-13-1987 by Ord. No. 575-87]
The name of this Department shall be the "Northvale Volunteer Fire Department." It is referred to in the following as "Fire Department." The Fire Department is hereby established coextensive with territorial jurisdiction of the Borough of Northvale.
The object of the Fire Department shall be the protection of life and property from fire, hazardous situations, spills, leaks or other conditions endangering the public for which the Fire Department has equipment to handle and the procuring of personnel to accomplish the same.
The Department shall be entitled to 90 members and no more.
[Amended 7-10-1991 by Ord. No. 628-91]
Class A Members (regular fire fighters). The regular or Class A members of the Fire Department shall meet the following requirements:
They shall be citizens of the United States.
They shall be residents of the State of New Jersey and reside in Northvale or one of the following communities: Closter, Harrington Park, Norwood, Rockleigh or Old Tappan. Membership from the five communities other than Northvale shall be limited to 10. If a current member moves to one of the other enumerated communities from Northvale, he or she shall remain an active member of the Northvale Fire Department.
[Amended 11-8-2000 by Ord. No. 759-2000]
They shall not be under 18 nor over 40 years of age at the time of their appointment, or as state law may require.
They shall be able to pass a physical examination, said exam be paid for by the Borough.
They shall answer to and perform a minimum of 60% of fire calls and drills during the calendar year.
Class B members (daytime fire fighters). There shall be a maximum total of five Class B members of the Fire Department who shall meet, in addition to the requirements of Subsection A(1), (3), (4) and (5) above, the following:
They shall be actively employed in a place of business within the Borough of Northvale during normal weekday hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. Any member who shall become employed outside of the Borough of Northvale shall no longer qualify as a Class B member.
They shall have successfully completed Fire Fighter I schooling or its equivalent and be a current, active member in good standing in the town in which they reside and present their certificate for review by the Department.
They shall submit to the Department written permission from their place of employment to leave work in order to fulfill their duties as a fire fighter. In conjunction with their employer's written permission, it shall be the responsibility of Class B members to attend all fire calls during normal weekday business hours from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Required drills under Subsection A(5) shall be deemed to be during daytime hours. Class B members shall be precluded from holding office within the Department of a line officer.
It shall be a further qualification of all Class A members (regular fire fighters) and Class B members (daytime fire fighters) appointed hereunder to complete all hazardous waste operations and emergency response training as required by the New Jersey Public Employees' Occupational Safety and Health Act (PEOSH), N.J.S.A. 34:6A-1 et seq. and the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and all rules and regulations contained thereunder [29 CFR 1910.120 q(6)(i-iv)].
[Added 5-5-1992 by Ord. No. 642-92]
[Amended 7-10-1991 by Ord. No. 628-91]
From the effective date herein, each application for Class A and/or Class B membership shall be made in writing, using forms provided by the New Jersey State Fire Association. The applicant shall be recommended to the Mayor and Council for the Borough of Northvale by the Chief of the Department of appointment.
Upon the appointment as a probationary fireman, the member must meet the requirements as set forth in this chapter, but the member shall not be eligible to vote or hold office. Upon the satisfactory completion of training as defined by the Chief and any training that may be required by the State of New Jersey, he shall be accepted as a member.
Membership. The membership of the Board of Fire Officers shall consist of the Chief and one other member chosen by him, the immediate Past Chief and two members of the Department chosen by the members at the annual meeting. Said two members shall each hold office for a two-year term.
Quorum. A quorum of the Board of Fire Officers shall consist of no less than a majority of the full qualified membership.
Meetings. Meetings may be called at the discretion of the Chief or by any two other members of the Board of Fire Officers acting on behalf of the Chief in the event of illness or incapacity, removal, death or disqualification. Members of the Board shall be entitled to receive due and timely notice of all special meetings.
Interpretation of chapter. Any question as to the interpretation, intention or meaning of this chapter shall be determined by the Chief of the Fire Department. However, if two or more members of the Board of Fire Officers disagree with said interpretation, then the Mayor and Council, upon the advice of the Municipal Attorney, shall issue a legal opinion. Any decision shall be transmitted to the active Department at its next regular meeting and a copy retained in a separate file for future reference. It shall be the duty of every member of the Board of Fire Officers to respect and enforce this chapter to the best of said member's ability in order that the Board may operate efficiently and in order to ensure that the Department shall function properly.
Charges; hearings; penalties.
No member or officer of the Northvale Volunteer Fire Department shall be removed from his office or position for any cause other than incapacity, misconduct or disobedience, or for violation of the applicable provisions of this chapter; nor shall such member or officer be suspended, removed, fined or reduced in rank or in office or position except for just cause as herein provided and then only upon written complaint to the Mayor and Council through the Fire Commissioner setting forth the charge or charges against such member or officer.
All charges against any officer or member must be submitted in writing and signed by a member or members in good standing. The written charges shall be submitted to the Board of Fire Officers. The Board of Fire Officers shall meet within 10 days following the receipt of the charges. A true copy of the written charges must be served on the accused by the Board of Fire Officers personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested, immediately upon receipt by the Board of Fire Officers. The charges shall be reviewed by the Board of Fire Officers, which shall take appropriate action to either dismiss the charges or require a hearing, which decision shall be made within 20 days of the presentation of the written charges to the Board of Fire Officers. A failure to substantially comply with the service of the complaint, the meeting of the Board of Fire Officers or the decision of the Board of Fire Officers to take appropriate action shall require a dismissal of the complaint.
In the event that the Board of Fire Officers does not dismiss the charge after a preliminary investigation and after presentation of the charges to the accused, it shall have the power to compel the production of proofs and witnesses required by it relative to said charges. All charges shall be heard before the Board of Fire Officers at a closed hearing. Neither the accused nor the complainant shall sit as a member of the trial board either at the hearing or in any of the preliminary decisions. The accused shall be entitled to be heard in his own behalf and shall be entitled to be represented by counsel of his choice. The accused and his representatives shall be afforded the right of cross-examination and confrontation of the witnesses against him. Should the accused stand mute and refuse to answer the charges, the hearing shall proceed in the same manner as if said accused had entered a plea of "not guilty" to the charges.
In the event that a hearing is held pursuant to the previous subsection, the accused shall receive a written notice of the hearing designating the time and place, which shall not be less than 10 days nor more than 30 days from the date of service of the complaint.
Upon receipt of charges by the Board of Fire Officers, the same shall have the power to order a temporary suspension of the accused from active duty and other duties and privileges of the Department. The accused may not serve at fires or any Fire Department duties until the final outcome of the charges is determined and made known to him in writing. In the event that no temporary suspension is ordered, the accused shall be entitled to continue as an active member of the Department in all respects.
In the event that a member of the Department is finally determined not guilty, then he shall be immediately entitled to resume all rights and privileges and duties as a member of the Department. In the event that a suspension has occurred or in the event of no suspension, his status shall be that of a member in good standing as though no charges had been brought.
The following is a list of the offenses and violations, which are not to be considered as all inclusive and limiting:
Willful disobedience of orders of a duly empowered superior.
Appearance at a fire, meeting or drill while under the influence of intoxicating liquors or any other controlled dangerous substance. Such member so appearing shall be referred to the Board of Fire Officers for disciplinary action.
Disrespect to a superior officer in his official capacity.
Incompetence with respect to the performance of any firematic duty.
Neglect on duty.
Leaving any official Fire Department operation without permission of the officer in charge, i.e., fires, drills, standby or parades.
Failure to perform assigned firematic duty.
Failure to report to the firehouse upon hearing a fire alarm, other than the Fire Chief or Deputy Chief, who may go directly to the fire scene.
[Amended 4-9-2008 by Ord. No. 854-2008]
Countermanding any order of an officer in charge of a fire.
Loaning of any uniform, badge, key or other fire equipment to anyone not a member of the Fire Department.
Willfully breaking, tampering or damaging any property of the Fire Department, Borough of Northvale, including but not limited to any and all types of firematic equipment of whatever nature.
Violation of any rule or order of this chapter resulting in harm or injury to the Department, its equipment or any of its members.
In the event, as a result of a hearing, that the Board of Fire Officers recommends permanent expulsion or removal of a member or officer, said member or officer is entitled to a hearing upon the charges before the Mayor and Council at a closed meeting, unless otherwise requested by said member. The hearing before the Mayor and Council shall only take place after the Board of Fire Officers has completed its hearing and made its recommendations. The hearing before the Mayor and Council shall be an appellate hearing de nova. The accused shall once again be afforded the opportunity to appear, respond, present evidence, confront the evidence and witnesses against him and present arguments as to all issues involved. The accused shall be allowed to have counsel represent him. A complaint shall be presented to the Mayor and Council, in writing, with a copy to the accused, and the Board of Fire Officers. Said complaint shall be signed by the original complaining party or parties and shall consist of a concise written statement of the facts constituting the alleged violation sufficient to give the member reasonable notice of the charges against him and adequate enough so as to enable him to prepare his defense.
Nothing contained in this chapter shall prevent the parties to a disciplinary hearing, by consent, stipulation or agreed settlement, to informally dispose the charges, provided that the same is accomplished, in writing, by all parties.
All proceedings in the hearing shall be without transcript except upon the request of any party to the hearing and to the expense of such party.
All findings of fact at a hearing shall be tape-recorded and based exclusively on the evidence and on the matters officially noticed at the hearing.
The parties of the hearing shall not be bound strictly by the rules of evidence, whether statutory, constitutional or adopted formally by the rules of court. All relevant evidence is admissible except if such evidence is cumulative and would constitute an undue consumption of time or is prejudicial. The complainant may present its case and defense by oral and by documentary evidence, submit rebuttal evidence and conduct cross-examination for a full and true disclosure of the facts.
In the event that the Mayor and Council are called upon to conduct a hearing of a member, said hearing may be closed or in open session, at the option of the defendant member. A final decision shall be made by the Mayor and Council in response to the charges in the complaint. The deliberation for making the decision may be in the closed session of the Mayor and Council or stated in the record and shall be made within 30 days after the completion of the hearing. A final decision of the Mayor and Council shall include findings of facts and conclusions of the grounds for the decision separately stated and shall be based upon the evidence of the record. The member shall be notified by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by personal service of the Mayor and Council. Said decision of the Mayor and Council shall be effective as of the date thereof and shall be deemed to be final subject only to judicial review.
Attendance at fires. It shall be the duty of a member to regularly attend all fires and drills. Upon the sounding of every alarm of fire, such member shall proceed promptly to the firehouse to discharge the duties assigned to him by the Chief or his designated officers.
Fulfilling of duties. All members shall fulfill the duties assigned to them by the officers of the Department.
Excuses. An excuse from a drill and/or a Department requirement may be given by the Chief or officer acting in the place of the Chief; and said excuse, if granted, shall be recorded on the attendance sheet.
Uniforms and appurtenances. All uniforms and appurtenances thereon issued by the Borough of Northvale to the Fire Department members shall be maintained in good order. The uniforms shall be used solely for Fire Department activities and shall bear the insignia of Northvale Fire Department.
The following line of officers shall be elected for a term of one year at the annual meeting of the Fire Department to be held during the first week of December:
In the event of a vacancy of one of the officers, a special election will be held at the discretion of the Board of Fire Officers, upon 48 hours' notice to all members of the Department, to fill said vacancy.
All members in good standing of the Fire Department shall be entitled to participate in the election of line officers, subject to the other provisions of this chapter.
After the election of the officers, the Chief shall submit to the Mayor and Council the results of said elections. Upon the approval of the Mayor and Council of the officers, they shall be sworn in the Mayor and Council and shall assume the duties of their respective offices.
The Chief shall have exclusive control and supervision at all fires, Departmental inspections, drills and reviews or other fire duties and shall schedule the annual meeting of the Fire Department. He shall also have supervision of all fire equipment of all officers and members of the Department. He shall hold the officers and members of the Department strictly to account for neglect of duties and may temporarily suspend any member or officer for refusing to obey lawful orders or for any reason that would promote discord or decrease efficiency in the Department. Such suspension by the Chief shall be subject to full review by the Board of Fire Officers at the specifically called meeting.
The Chief shall also be responsible for submitting to the Mayor and Council an annual inventory of equipment and condition of the same, roster and status of each Fire Department member, a truck maintenance report and any other information as required by the Mayor and Council.
Deputy Chief. The Deputy Chief shall perform the duties of the Chief in his absence and such other duties prescribed.
[Amended 4-9-2008 by Ord. No. 854-2008]
Captain and Lieutenants. The Captain and Lieutenants shall perform the duties set forth by the Chief or, in his absence, the Deputy Chief.
[Amended 4-9-2008 by Ord. No. 854-2008]
Engineer. The Engineer shall be responsible for the regular and ordinary maintenance of all Borough fire equipment and shall keep a log of such maintenance activity.
The fire apparatus and equipment of the Borough of Northvale shall be used only for the purpose of fire control, fire prevention, protection of property, instruction of members of the Department or other firematic purposes.
Any and all pronouns or references to gender herein shall be deemed to apply to male or female, as the case may be.
The members of the Fire Department may attend firematic functions outside the Borough of Northvale and use Borough of Northvale equipment.
[Adopted 3-13-2002 by Ord. No. 774-2002]
There is hereby established an auxiliary to the Northvale Fire Department which shall be known as the "Junior Firemen's Auxiliary." Said Junior Firemen's Auxiliary shall operate and be guided by N.J.S.A. 40A:14-95, et seq.
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 40A:14-96, no person shall be eligible for membership in the Junior Firemen's Auxiliary who is less than 14 or more than 21 years of age.
The following membership eligibility requirements and procedures shall apply to all prospective members of the Junior Firemen's Auxiliary:
Persons between the ages of 14 and 18 shall be required to obtain permission to join the Auxiliary from their parents or guardian.
All candidates must submit proof of their birth date.
All candidates must submit a written application to be reviewed by an examining board selected the Board of Fire Officers of the Borough of Northvale Fire Department. The candidate's parents or guardian shall sign the application and agree to abide by the provisions of this article and the standard operating guidelines promulgated thereunder.
The examining board has the right to examine all relevant past history of any candidate; including, but not limited to, driving records, arrests, convictions, or such further information that the board deems relevant. The examining board shall acquire said information from law enforcement agencies.
A candidate must submit a physical report from a physician before becoming a member.
The following rules, regulations and standard operating guidelines of the Junior Firemen's Auxiliary are hereby adopted:
In accordance with N.J.S.A. 40A:14-95, no junior firemen shall be required to perform duties which would expose him to the same degree of hazard as a regular member of the Volunteer Fire Department.
Juniors shall not allow Fire Department activities to interfere with family, school, or school-related activities.
No junior shall attend a department call, or any other department-related activity during school hours.
Juniors must stay in school and maintain an overall C average.
Juniors shall not engage in any act unbecoming the uniform of the Northvale Junior program.
There shall be no smoking by a junior at any time.
Juniors must maintain a 50% average per year of training exercises, fund-raisers, and special activities; fire calls shall be considered extra credit. Members must exhibit genuine interest toward learning basic fire-fighting skills and participating in fire department activities.
Juniors shall not interfere with fire apparatus or fire fighters responding to or returning from a call.
Juniors may only respond to calls and remain at the firehouse after cleanups, drills, and special activities pursuant to the following schedule:
While responding to a fire call, juniors shall obey all traffic laws, obey all traffic lights, and shall not drive a personal vehicle over the posted speed limit or in a reckless or careless manner at any time.
Juniors' personal vehicles shall not display a blue light during a fire call response or at any time.
Juniors shall not board apparatus unless explicitly instructed to do so by the truck officer.
Juniors shall not drive department apparatus at any time.
Juniors must remain at the vehicle by which they arrived at the fire scene until otherwise directed by a line officer or in the absence of a line officer, the truck officer or senior fire fighter in charge.
Juniors must obey the chief officer in charge at all fire activities. Juniors must as well adhere to all Northvale Fire Department regulations and the requirements of this article.
Juniors shall be at least 18 years of age and possess a valid driver's license to direct traffic. In addition, any junior who directs traffic shall undergo a training period by the Northvale Police Department and shall be required to wear high-visibility vests.
Activities of juniors under 16 years of age shall be limited to:
Department keys shall not be issued to juniors; juniors are not permitted in the fire station without the presence of a member of the Northvale Fire Department.
No member of the Junior Firemen's Auxiliary may hold either a line officer or elected administrative position.
No junior may perform house duty in place of a fire fighter.
No junior is permitted behind the bar area for any reason.
A junior shall be considered in good standing when all of the following requirements are satisfied:
Members of the Junior Firemen's Auxiliary shall be provided with the same insurance coverage in the same amounts provided for the regular volunteer firemen of the Borough of Northvale pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40A:14-97.