Original Author: Shechter, Leslie
Date of Material: 03/12/1993
Reviewed Date: 07/29/2021
MTAS was asked about the advisability of some residents of the City forming a volunteer fire department and contracting with the City to provide services.
You have asked about fire protection services being provided to the City. Specifically, some residents of the City would like to form a volunteer fire department and contract with the City to provide services. I have discussed the situation with our Fire Consultant, Ray Crouch and would advise against such a contract. Instead, I believe the advisable course of action is to pass a resolution authorizing this group of volunteers to provide fire protection within the City limits.
To avoid liability for this volunteer department and to insulate the City as much as possible, you probably do not want to exercise any control over the operation of the department. A formal contract could be interpreted as an agreement, by the City, to provide some minimum level of service for which you can be held accountable.
You have stated that you are not wanting to create a fire department as a municipal department operating under your charter. This volunteer department should separately incorporate as a 501 (c) non-profit entity. You could then contribute to the volunteer department as you would any other non-profit entity under Tennessee Code Annotated, §6-54-111. A resolution authorizing this department to provide fire protection within the City is all that is necessary. I have drafted such a resolution and it is included with this letter.
If you have questions about this or any other matter please call.