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Colorado Revised Statute Special District Act Title 32

Colorado Revised Statutes Title 32. Special Districts § 32-1-1002. Fire protection districts

CRS 2021 SD ACT Title 32.pdf

 

(1) In addition to the powers specified in section 32-1-1001, the board of any fire protection district has the following powers for and on behalf of the district:

(a) To acquire, dispose of, or encumber fire stations, fire protection and fire fighting equipment, and any interest therein, including leases and easements;

(b) To have and exercise the power of eminent domain and dominant eminent domain and, in the manner provided by article 1 of title 38, C.R.S., to take any property necessary to the exercise of the powers granted, both within and without the special district;

(c) To undertake and to operate as a part of the duties of the fire protection district an ambulance service, an emergency medical service, a rescue unit, and a diving and grappling service;

(d) To adopt and enforce fire codes, as the board deems necessary, but no such code shall apply within any municipality or the unincorporated portion of any county unless the governing body of the municipality or county, as the case may be, adopts a resolution stating that the code or specific portions thereof shall be applicable within the fire protection district's boundaries;  except that nothing in this subsection (1)(d) shall be construed to affect any fire codes existing on June 30, 1981, that have been adopted by the governing body of a municipality or county. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, no fire protection district shall prohibit the sale of permissible fireworks, as defined in section 24-33.5-2001(11), within its jurisdiction.

(d.5) To receive and spend an impact fee or other similar development charge imposed pursuant to the provisions described in section 29-20-104.5, C.R.S.;

(e) To fix and from time to time increase or decrease fees and charges as follows, and the board may pledge such revenue for the payment of any indebtedness of the district:

(I) For ambulance or emergency medical services and extrication, rescue, or safety services provided in furtherance of ambulance or emergency medical services. “Extrication, rescue, or safety services” includes but is not limited to any:

(A) Services provided prior to the arrival of an ambulance;

(B) Rescue or extrication of trapped or injured parties at the scene of a motor vehicle accident;  and

(C) Lane safety or blocking provided by district equipment.

(II) For requested or mandated inspections if a fire code is in existence on June 30, 1981, as specified in paragraph (d) of this subsection (1) or has been adopted thereafter pursuant to said paragraph (d);

(III) For requested inspections if a fire code has been adopted by the board of the fire protection district, whether or not the code has been adopted by a municipality or county pursuant to paragraph (d) of this subsection (1);

(f) In areas of the special district where the county or municipality has rejected the adoption of a fire code submitted by the fire protection district, to compel the owners of premises, whenever necessary for the protection of public safety, to install fire escapes, fire installations, fireproofing, automatic or other fire alarm apparatus, fire extinguishing equipment, and other safety devices. This paragraph (f) shall not apply when a valid ordinance providing for fire safety standards, pursuant to section 30-15-401.5, C.R.S., is in effect.

(g) To create and maintain a paid firefighters' pension fund, under the provisions of parts 2 and 4 of article 30.5 of title 31, C.R.S., subject to the provisions of article 31 of said title, and a volunteer firefighter pension fund under part 11 of article 30 of title 31, C.R.S.;

(h) To establish, in its discretion, a system of civil service in the fire protection district to cover its paid employees who are directly employed by the fire protection district as full-time paid firefighters in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section.

(2)(a) A fire protection district's civil service system shall not cover employees of a fire department that renders fire protection service to the fire protection district under contract. The question of establishing a system of civil service shall be submitted at any regular special district election or special election of the fire protection district and shall not become effective unless approved as required for authorization of indebtedness. In establishing a system of civil service, the board may provide for the exclusion of supervisory and administrative personnel from the system. The board shall appropriate such funds as are necessary for the regular special district election or special election from the general funds of the fire protection district, and the election shall be held and conducted as provided in articles 1 to 13.5 of title 1, C.R.S.

(b)(I)(A) Except as provided in sub-subparagraph (B) of this subparagraph (I), the board of any fire protection district establishing a system of civil service for its paid employees may appoint three electors residing in the district to serve as a civil service committee, referred to in this subsection (2) as the “committee”. Of those initially appointed, one member of the committee shall be appointed for a term of two years, one for four years, and one for six years;  thereafter, each member shall be appointed for a term of six years.

(B) When two or more fire protection districts having established civil service systems consolidate into a single consolidated district pursuant to section 32-1-602, the civil service committee of each of the consolidating districts shall dissolve, and the board of directors of the consolidated district shall appoint at least three but no more than nine members to serve on the civil service committee of the consolidated district. Of those initially appointed, three of the members of the civil service committee of the consolidated district shall serve staggered terms pursuant to sub-subparagraph (A) of this subparagraph (I), and the board shall appoint any other member for a term of six years. Thereafter, each member shall be appointed for a term of six years.

(C) Any member may be appointed to succeed himself or herself. No paid firefighter employed by the fire protection district may be a member of the committee. The members of the committee shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses incurred in the discharge of their duties.

(D) The board of directors of any fire protection district consolidated prior to July 1, 1996, may expand, by appointment, the membership of its established civil service committee to no more than nine members pursuant to sub-subparagraph (B) of this subparagraph (I). The board shall appoint such members for a term of six years.

(II) The committee shall elect from among its members a president. The secretary of the board shall serve as the secretary of the committee but shall have no vote on the committee. The secretary shall keep a record of the minutes of all proceedings of the committee in a bound book separate and apart from the records of the board. The secretary is the only member of the board who may be a member of the committee.

(III) Any member of the committee may be discharged by the board for cause, but only after affording the member the right to a public hearing at which the member may be represented by counsel. Vacancies in office on the committee shall be filled according to the provisions of section 1-12-207, C.R.S.

(IV) The attorney for the board shall act as legal advisor to the committee, but at all hearings before the committee involving a firefighter, such firefighter may be represented by counsel.

(c) The committee shall:

(I) Establish standards for employment and termination of employment, including minimum conditions of employment for applicants for appointment and promotion, which shall assure that such applicants shall be of good moral character and physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of performing arduous duties, eighteen years of age or older, graduates of a high school or the equivalent thereof, citizens of the United States, and residents of the state of Colorado. In establishing standards concerning a person's character, the committee shall be governed by the provisions of section 24-5-101, C.R.S.

(II) Recruit applicants for employment;  formulate and hold competitive examinations, or cause the same to be done, in order to determine the relative qualifications of persons seeking employment in any class or position as a firefighter;  and formulate and hold promotional examinations for firefighters within the fire department of the fire protection district, or cause the same to be done;

(III) Certify to the board, as a result of such examinations, lists of qualified applicants for the various classes of positions who successfully completed such examinations;

(IV) Determine that any examination held pursuant to subparagraph (II) or (III) of this paragraph (c) is practical and consists only of subjects which will fairly determine the capacity of persons examined to perform duties of the position sought, including, but not limited to, tests of physical fitness and manual skill;

(V) When a vacant position is to be filled, certify to the board, upon written request of the board, the names of the three persons highest on the eligible list for that position or the applicable classification;  but if less than three persons are on such list, then all the names shall be certified to the board. If there are no such lists, the committee shall authorize provisional or temporary appointment lists for such position or applicable classification.

(d) The committee, from time to time, may make, amend, and repeal bylaws and rules and regulations necessary to administer the provisions of this subsection (2).

(e) Disciplinary action against any firefighter may be instituted by the chief of the fire protection district, and a hearing thereon, after reasonable notice, shall be afforded to the firefighter concerned, at which hearing the firefighter may be represented by counsel of his or her choice at his or her expense. Such hearings shall be conducted in the same manner, insofar as possible, as provided in section 24-4-105, C.R.S. Any firefighter aggrieved by the decision of the board may obtain review thereof by appeal to the committee, and on such review the firefighter may be represented by counsel of his or her choice at his or her expense.

(f) The committee shall hear all complaints involving alleged injustice, wrongful discharge, and other violations of the rules and regulations of the committee and shall hear all appeals from decisions of the board on disciplinary actions pursuant to paragraph (e) of this subsection (2). All such hearings shall be conducted in the same manner, insofar as possible, as provided in section 24-4-105, C.R.S. The decision of the committee shall be final and shall not be set aside except by the committee or by a court of competent jurisdiction. Judicial review of any decision of the committee may be had in the same manner as prescribed in section 24-4-106, C.R.S.

(g) The board, if requested by the committee, may contract with any municipal or state agency for the purpose of conducting examinations for original appointment or for promotion, or for any other purpose in connection with the selection or administration of personnel.

(h) The firefighters of any fire protection district in good standing at the time of the establishment of said civil service system shall continue in their employment and rank, shall be automatically included in the civil service system, and shall be promoted or discharged in accordance with the provisions of the civil service rules and regulations;  except that the office of fire chief shall be excluded from such civil service system. The board shall make provision for tenure of the fire chief, and the committee shall implement the same by appropriate rules and regulations.

(i) Any fire protection district which has established a system of civil service for its paid employees pursuant to this section shall not terminate the system unless the question of termination is submitted at an election. The election shall be conducted pursuant to articles 1 to 13.5 of title 1, C.R.S.

(j) The board shall appropriate annually, by resolution, to the committee sufficient funds to administer the provisions of this subsection (2).

(k) If any county assumes countywide responsibility for fire protection or any board of county commissioners becomes the board of a fire protection district and adopts a countywide merit, civil service, or career service system, any civil service system established under the provision of this subsection (2) shall be dissolved and merged with such countywide system, including all employees' benefits, rights, liabilities, and duties accrued or incurred under this subsection (2), and the same shall be continued following such merger.

(3)(a) The chief of the fire department in each fire protection district in the state of Colorado, by virtue of such office so held by him or her, shall have authority over the supervision of all fires within the district;  except that responsibility for coordinating fire suppression efforts in case of any prairie, forest, or wildland fire that exceeds the capabilities of the district to control or extinguish shall be transferred to the county sheriff in accordance with section 30-10-513, C.R.S., subject to the duties and obligations imposed by this subsection (3) and subject to the provisions of the community wildfire protection plan prepared by the county in accordance with section 30-15-401.7, C.R.S. The chief shall be vested with such other express authority as is contained in this subsection (3), including commanding the fire department of such district.

(b) The chief of the fire department in each fire protection district shall:

(I) Enforce all laws of this state and ordinances and resolutions of the appropriate political subdivisions relating to the prevention of fires and the suppression of arson;

(II)(A) Inspect, or cause to be inspected by members or officers of his department, as often as he shall deem necessary, all buildings, premises, and public places, except the interior of any private dwelling, for the purpose of ascertaining and causing to be corrected any condition liable to cause fire or for the purpose of obtaining information relative to the violation of the various provisions of this subsection (3). Any individual conducting such inspection shall carry on his person properly authorized fire department identification which shall be shown, on request, to the owner, lessee, agent, or occupant of any structure prior to the inspection of the same.

(B) The chief of any such fire department or fire department members designated by the chief have the authority to enter into all structures and upon all premises within their respective jurisdictions at reasonable times during business hours or such times as such structures or premises are open for the purpose of examination in conformity with the duties imposed by this subsection (3), and it is unlawful for any person to interfere with the chief of any such fire department, or any member of such fire department designated by the chief to conduct an inspection, in the discharge of his duties or to hinder or prevent him from entering into or upon or from inspecting any buildings, establishments, enclosures, or premises in the discharge of his duties.

(III) Include, as part of the inspections required by subparagraph (II) of this paragraph (b), all of the following:

(A) An inspection of all buildings and enclosures to see that proper receptacles for ashes are provided, to cause all rubbish or other inflammable material to be properly removed or disposed of, and to make such suggestions and issue such orders to the owners or occupants of buildings as, in the opinion of such inspecting officer, will render the same safe from fire;

(B) An inspection of the surroundings of boilers and other heating apparatus in any building to ascertain whether all woodwork is properly protected and that no rubbish or combustible material is allowed to accumulate;

(C) An inspection of fire escapes and stairways to cause the removal of all obstructions therefrom and of all places where explosives or inflammable compounds are sold or stored;

(D) An inspection of the construction, placing, repair, and control of all fire escapes, standpipes, pressure tanks, fire doors, fire shutters, fire lines, fire hose, sprinkling systems, exit lights, and exit signs and a review of the installation and testing of fire equipment in all buildings and places requiring such equipment and of the provisions for means of escape or protection against loss of life and property from fire in such buildings and places;

(IV) Enforce, within his respective jurisdiction, all laws of this state and ordinances and resolutions of any appropriate political subdivision pertaining to the keeping, storage, use, manufacture, sale, handling, transportation, or other disposition of highly inflammable materials and rubbish, gunpowder, dynamite, crude petroleum or any of its products, explosive or inflammable liquids or compounds, tablets, torpedoes, or any explosives of a like nature, or any other explosive, including fireworks and firecrackers, and such chief may prescribe the materials and construction of receptacles to be used for the storage of any of said items;  but authorization for enforcement of the provisions of this subsection (3) does not extend to the production, transportation, or storage of inflammable liquids as regulated by articles 20 and 20.5 of title 8 and title 34, C.R.S.;

(V) Investigate or cause to be investigated the cause, origin, and circumstance of every fire occurring within his jurisdiction by which property is destroyed or damaged and, so far as is possible, determine whether the fire was the result of carelessness or design. Such investigation shall begin immediately upon the occurrence of the fire, and if, after such investigation, the chief is of the opinion that the facts in relation to such fire indicate that a crime has been committed, he shall present the facts of such investigation and the testimony taken from any person involved, together with any other data in his possession, to the district attorney of the proper county, with his request that the district attorney institute such criminal proceedings as the investigation, testimony, or data may warrant. It is the duty of the district attorney upon such request to assist in such further investigation as may be required.

(c) Whenever any chief, or any designated member of a fire department, finds, through inspection procedures as outlined in subparagraph (II) or (III) of paragraph (b) of this subsection (3), any building or other structure which, for want of repair of or lack of or insufficient fire escapes, automatic or other fire alarm apparatus, or fire extinguishing equipment as may be required by law or for reasons of age, dilapidated condition, or any other cause, is especially liable to fire or is hazardous to the safety of the occupants thereof and which is so situated as to endanger other property, and whenever such officer finds in any building combustible or explosive matter or inflammable conditions, dangerous to the safety of such building or its occupants, the chief shall order the same to be removed or remedied, and such order shall forthwith be complied with by the owner, lessee, agent, or occupant of such premises or buildings. Any such owner, lessee, agent, or occupant who feels himself aggrieved by any such order may file, within five days after the making of any such order, a petition with the district court of the county in which such premises or building is located, requesting a review of such order, and it is the duty of such court to hear the same at the first convenient day and to make such order in the premises as justice may require, and such decision shall be final.

(d) Any owner, lessee, agent, or occupant of any building or premises maintaining any condition likely to cause fire or to constitute an additional fire hazard or any condition which impedes or prevents the egress of persons from such building or premises in violation of the provisions of this subsection (3) shall be deemed to be maintaining a fire hazard. Any person who violates any provision of this subsection (3) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty dollars nor more than two hundred fifty dollars. Each day in which such a violation occurs shall constitute a separate violation of this subsection (3).

(4)(a) Within any fire protection district organized under the provisions of this article, it is unlawful for any person:

(I) To willfully or maliciously give, make, or cause to be given or made a false alarm of fire, whether by the use of a fire alarm box, telephone call, or otherwise;

(II) To willfully or maliciously disconnect, cut, or sever any wire of the fire alarm telegraph or in any manner tamper with any part of such communication apparatus;

(III) To aid, abet, knowingly permit, or participate in the commission of any act prohibited by this paragraph (a).

<Text of (4)(b) effective until March 1, 2022>

(b) Any person who violates any provision of this subsection (4) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished for each offense by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than ninety days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

<Text of (4)(b) effective March 1, 2022>

(b) Any person who violates any provision of this subsection (4) commits a class 2 misdemeanor.

(c) The provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection (4) shall not limit the power of municipalities to enact ordinances covering the same or similar subject matter, but no person acquitted of, convicted of, or pleading guilty to a violation of a municipal ordinance shall be charged or tried in a state court for the same or a similar offense, and no person acquitted of, convicted of, or pleading guilty to a violation of paragraph (a) of this subsection (4) in a state court shall be charged or tried in a municipal court for the same or a similar offense.

(5) The district attorney in the judicial district in which the special district was organized shall prosecute any violation under subsection (3) or (4) of this section.