Fire Protection Districts

AuthorRaymond S. DiRaddo
Chapter 23
Fire Protection Districts
New York Fire District Officers’ Guide
§23:10 23-2
Fire protection districts, unlike fire districts, are not separate units of government and are not political
subdivisions of the state. As fire districts have their own elected board of fire commissioners governing them,
fire protection districts are created by and under the control of the town board. Town Law §184 (1). The protected
area receives fire protection only under the terms of a contract. A town board on its own motion or on petition
can create a fire protection district, or alter the boundaries of a fire protection district. Town Law §184 (2).
Consolidation of adjoining fire protection districts or dissolving a fire protection district is now accomplished
under General Municipal Law Article 17-A. Unlike fire districts, there is no authority for the appointment or
election of commissioners of a fire protection district. Opinion of the State Comptroller 87-28.
The town board has the option, when it creates the fire protection district, to contract for both equipment and
fire fighting personnel. Alternately, the town board can purchase its own fire protection apparatus and equipment,
and contract for the operation, maintenance and repair of the apparatus, and the furnishing of the fire protection.
This protection within the fire protection district is obtained by contractual arrangement between the town board
and any city, village, fire district or incorporated fire company maintaining adequate and suitable equipment in
such fire protection district. Town Law §184 (2).
If a fire protection district is involved in a consolidation, such that the fire protection district will be
terminated after the consolidation, it is imperative that the issue of assets and liabilities of the fire protection
district be addressed in the consolidation agreement.
A fire protection contract cannot be entered into until the town board holds a public hearing. The contract,
besides calling for fire protection, may also include furnishing emergency service in case of accident, calamity,
or other emergency for which the service of firefighters would be required and also general ambulance service
may be required. However, general ambulance service must have been legally and properly established by the
fire department. Town Law §184 (3).
There is no requirement, however, for the board of fire commissioners to hold a public hearing before
entering into a fire protection contract with the town.
Before the contract can be entered into between the fire district commissioners and the town, the fire
department or fire company must give its consent. If the contract is for the use of the emergency rescue and first
aid squad, then such squad must also consent. Town Law §184 (10).
Since the fire protection contract cannot be entered into until a public hearing has been held by the town
board, notice of the hearing shall be published at least once in at least one newspaper having general circulation
in the district.
The notice of the public hearing must specify the time and place of the hearing, and describe in general terms
the proposed contract. The first publication shall be at least 10 days prior to the day specified for the hearing.

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