Last year the General Assembly enacted the “Fire Department Recognition Act,” 2003 Public Chapter 312 now codified at T.C.A. §§ 68-102-301 through 68-102-307. This act became effective on July 1, 2003. Today, no county, municipality or other organization, agency or entity is allowed to operate a fire department in Tennessee unless it has been duly recognized by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, State Fire Marshall’s office.
Fire departments in existence before July 1, 2003 were required to file an application and receive approval by the State Fire Marshall’s office in order to continue to operate. Upon being recognized as a fire department, the State Fire Marshall issues a certificate of recognition to the department that is valid for a period of three years. Once recognized, the fire department is classified as career, volunteer or combination.
After July 1, 2003, no new fire department may be established or recognized within Tennessee without the approval of the local elected governing body. Therefore, a volunteer fire department cannot be formed and operate in the unincorporated areas of a county without the approval of the county legislative body.
Unless a fire department has a certificate of recognition from the State Fire Marshall’s office, it cannot solicit or receive money from any governmental source. Therefore, a
SPOTLIGHT ON CURRENT ISSUES - Fire Department Recognition - 2/2/04
county legislative body cannot appropriate funds to any fire department – county, city or volunteer – unless the department has a valid and current certificate of recognition.
Prior to receiving any additional county funds, the fire department making the request should provide a copy of the certificate of recognition issued by the State Fire Marshall’s office.
If you have any questions concerning this act, please contact your regional CTAS consultant, or Kevin Lauer, CTAS Fire Management Consultant at 865-974-8181.
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