Chapter 69.

Fire Protection.

Article 1.

Investigation of Fires and Inspection of Premises.

§§ 69-1 through 69-7.1:  Recodified as Article 79 of Chapter 58.

 

 

Article 2.

Fire Escapes.

§§ 69-8 through 69-13: Repealed by Session Laws 1987, c.  864, s. 51.

 

 

Article 3.

State Volunteer Fire Department.

§§ 69-14 through 69-25:  Recodified as Article 80 of Chapter 58.

 

 

Article 3A.

Rural Fire Protection Districts.

§ 69-25.1.  Election to be held upon petition of voters.

Upon the petition of thirty-five percent (35%) of the resident freeholders living in an area lying outside the corporate limits of any city or town, which area is described in the petition and designated as "_________________________________________

 (Here insert name)

Fire District," the board of county commissioners of the county shall call a special election in said district for the purpose of submitting to the qualified voters therein the question of levying and collecting a special tax on all taxable property in said district, of not exceeding fifteen cents (15) on the one hundred dollars ($100.00) valuation of property, for the purpose of providing fire protection in said district. The county tax office shall be responsible for checking the freeholder status of those individuals signing the petition and confirming the location of the property owned by those individuals. Unless specifically excluded by other law, the provisions of Subchapter III of Chapter 163A of the General Statutes concerning petitions for referenda and special elections shall apply. If the voters reject the special tax under the first paragraph of this section, then no new election may be held under the first paragraph of this section within two years on the question of levying and collecting a special tax under the first paragraph of this section in that district, or in any proposed district which includes a majority of the land within the district in which the tax was rejected.

Upon the petition of thirty-five percent (35%) of the resident freeholders living in an area which has previously been established as a fire protection district and in which there has been authorized by a vote of the people a special tax not exceeding ten cents (10) on the one hundred dollars ($100.00) valuation of property within the area, the board of county commissioners shall call a special election in said area for the purpose of submitting to the qualified voters therein the question of increasing the allowable special tax for fire protection within said district from ten cents (10) on the one hundred dollars ($100.00) valuation to fifteen cents (15) on the one hundred dollars ($100.00) valuation on all taxable property within such district. Special elections on the question of increasing the allowable tax rate for fire protection shall not be held within the same district at intervals less than two years.  (1951, c. 820, s. 1; 1953, c. 453, s. 1; 1959, c. 805, ss. 1, 2; 1983, c. 388, ss. 1, 1.1; 2002-159, s. 55(g); 2013-381, s. 10.6; 2017-6, s. 3.)

 

§ 69-25.2.  Duties of county board of commissioners regarding conduct of elections; cost of holding.

The board of county commissioners, after consulting with the county board of elections, shall set a date for the special election in accordance with G.S. 163A-1592 by resolution adopted. The county board of elections shall hold and conduct the election in the district. The county board of elections shall advertise and conduct said election, in accordance with the provisions of this Article and with the procedures prescribed in Subchapter III of Chapter 163A governing the conduct of special and general elections. The cost of holding the election to establish a district shall be paid by the county, provided that if the district is established, then the county shall be reimbursed the cost of the election from the taxes levied within the district, but the cost of an election to increase the allowable tax under G.S. 69-25.1 or to abolish a fire district under G.S. 69-25.10 shall be paid from the funds of the district.  (1951, c. 820, s. 2; 1975, c. 706; 1981, c. 786, s. 2; 2013-381, s. 10.7; 2017-6, s. 3.)

 

§ 69-25.3.  Ballots.

At said election those voters who are in favor of levying a tax in said district for fire protection therein shall vote a ballot on which shall be written or printed, "In favor of tax for fire protection in ________

                                                                              (Here insert name)

Fire Protection District." Those who are against levying said tax shall vote a ballot on which shall be written or printed the words, "Against tax for fire protection in________________ Fire Protection District."

                                             (Here insert name)

Whenever an election is called pursuant to this Article on the question of increasing the tax limit for fire protection in any area, those voters in favor of such increase therein shall vote a ballot on which shall be printed, "In favor of tax increase for fire protection in            Fire Protection District." Those who are against increasing the tax limit for fire protection therein shall vote a ballot on which shall be printed, "Against tax increase for fire protection in Fire Protection District."

The failure of the election on the question of an increase in the tax for fire protection shall not be deemed to be the abolishment of the special tax for fire protection already in effect in said district. (1951, c. 820, s. 3; 1959, c. 805, s. 3.)

 

§ 69-25.4.  Tax to be levied and used for furnishing fire protection.

(a)        If a majority of the qualified voters voting at said election vote in favor of levying and collecting a tax in said district, then the board of county commissioners is authorized and directed to levy and collect a tax in said district in such amount as it may deem necessary, not exceeding ten cents (10¢) on the one hundred dollars ($100.00) valuation of property in said district from year to year, and shall keep the same as a separate and special fund, to be used only for furnishing fire protection within said district, as provided in G.S. 69-25.5.

Provided, that if a majority of the qualified voters voting at such elections vote in favor of levying and collecting a tax in such district, or vote in favor of increasing the tax limit in said district, then the board of county commissioners is authorized and directed to levy and collect a tax in such districts in such amount as it may deem necessary, not exceeding fifteen cents (15¢) on the one hundred dollars ($100.00) valuation of property in said district from year to year.

(b)        For purposes of this Article, the term "fire protection" and the levy of a tax for that purpose may include the levy, appropriation, and expenditure of funds for furnishing emergency medical, rescue and ambulance services to protect persons within the district from injury or death; and the levy, appropriation, and expenditure of the tax to provide such services are proper, authorized and lawful. In providing these services the fire district shall be subject to G.S. 153A-250.

(c)        For purposes of this Article, a fire protection district is a municipal corporation organized for a special purpose. Except in cases when a fire protection district commission is appointed to govern the district, the board of county commissioners, or joint boards of county commissioners when the area lies in more than one county, shall serve as the governing body. (1951, c. 820, s. 4; 1959, c. 805, s. 4; 1981, c. 217; 2001-414, s. 33.)

 

§ 69-25.5.  Methods of providing fire protection.

Upon the levy of such tax, the board of county commissioners shall, to the extent of the taxes collected hereunder, provide fire protection for the district -

(1)        By contracting with any incorporated city or town, with any incorporated nonprofit volunteer or community fire department, or with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to furnish fire protection, or

(2)        By furnishing fire protection itself if the county maintains an organized fire department, or

(3)        By establishing a fire department within the district, or

(4)        By utilizing any two or more of the above listed methods of furnishing fire protection.  (1951, c. 820, s. 5; 1973, c. 1262, s. 86; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1989, c. 727, s. 218(11); 1997-443, s. 11A.119(a); 2015-241, s. 14.30(u); 2015-263, s. 36(c).)

 

§ 69-25.6.  Municipal corporations empowered to make contracts.

Municipal corporations are hereby empowered to make contracts to carry out the purposes of this Article. (1951, c. 820, s. 6.)

 

§ 69-25.7.  Administration of special fund; fire protection district commission.

The special fund provided by the tax herein authorized shall be administered to provide fire protection as provided in G.S. 69-25.5 by the board of county commissioners or the joint boards of county commissioners, if the area lies in more than one county, or by a fire protection district commission of three qualified voters of the area, to be known as _____________________________________________________________

                                                            (Here insert name)

Fire Protection District Commission, said board to be appointed by the board of county commissioners or the joint boards of county commissioners, if the area lies in more than one county, for a term of two years, said commission to serve at the discretion of and under the supervision of the board of county commissioners or boards of county commissioners if the area lies in more than one county. (1951, c. 820, s. 7; 1953, c. 453, s. 2.)

 

§ 69-25.8.  Authority, rights, privileges and immunities of counties, etc., performing services under Article.

Any county, municipal corporation or fire protection district performing any of the services authorized by this Article shall be subject to the same authority and immunities as a county would enjoy in the operation of a county fire department within the county, or a municipal corporation would enjoy in the operation of a fire department within its corporate limits.

No liability shall be incurred by any municipal corporation on account of the absence from the city or town of any or all of its fire-fighting equipment or of members of its fire department by reason of performing services authorized by this Article.

Members of any county, municipal or fire protection district fire department shall have all of the immunities, privileges and rights, including coverage by workers' compensation insurance, when performing any of the functions authorized by this Article, as members of a county fire department would have in performing their duties in and for a county, or as members of a municipal fire department would have in performing their duties for and within the corporate limits of the municipal corporation. (1951, c. 820, s. 8; 1979, c. 714, s. 2.)

 

§ 69-25.9.  Procedure when area lies in more than one county.

In the event that an area petitioning for a tax election under this Article lies in more than one county said petition shall be submitted to the board of county commissioners of all the counties in which said area lies and election shall be called which shall be conducted jointly by the county board of elections and the cost of same shall be shared equally by all counties.

Upon passage, the tax herein provided shall be levied and collected by each county on all of the taxable property in its portion of the fire protection district; the tax collected shall be paid into a special fund and used for the purpose of providing fire protection for the district. (1953, c. 453, s. 3; 1985, c. 563, s. 5.)

 

§ 69-25.10.  Means of abolishing tax district.

Upon a petition of fifteen percent (15%) of the resident freeholders of any special fire protection district or area, at intervals of not less than two years, the board of county commissioners or the joint boards of county commissioners, if the area lies in more than one county, shall call an election to abolish the special tax for fire protection for the area, the election to be called and conducted as provided in G.S. 69-25.2; if a majority of the registered voters vote to abolish said tax, the commissioners shall cease levy and collecting same and any unused funds of the district shall be turned over to and used by the county commissioners of the county collecting same as a part of its general fund, and any property or properties of the district or the proceeds thereof shall be distributed, used or disposed of equitably by the board of county commissioners or the boards of county commissioners. (1953, c. 453, s. 4.)

 

§ 69-25.11.  Changes in area of district.

After a fire protection district has been established under the provisions of this Article and fire protection commissioners have  been appointed, changes in the area may be made as follows:

(1)        The area of any fire protection district may be increased by including within the boundaries of the district any adjoining territory upon the application of the owner, or a two-thirds majority of the owners, of the territory to be included, the unanimous recommendation in writing of the fire protection commissioners of said district, the approval of a majority of the members of the board of directors of the corporation furnishing fire protection to the district, and the approval of the board or boards of county commissioners in the county or counties in which said fire protection district is located. However, before said fire protection district change is approved by the county commissioners, notice shall be given once a week for two successive calendar weeks in a newspaper having general circulation in said district, and notice shall be posted at the courthouse door in each county affected, and at three public places in the area to be included, said notices inviting interested citizens to appear at a designated meeting of said county commissioners, said notice to be published the first time and posted not less than fifteen days prior to the date fixed for hearing before the county commissioners.

(2)        The area of any fire protection district may be decreased by  removing therefrom any territory, upon the application of the owner or owners of the territory to be removed, the unanimous recommendation in writing of the fire protection commissioners of said district, the approval of a majority of the members of the board of directors of the corporation furnishing fire protection to the district, and the approval of the board or boards of county commissioners of the county or counties in which the district is located.

(3)        In the case of adjoining fire districts having in effect the  same rate of tax for fire protection, the board of county commissioners, upon petition of the fire protection commissioners and the boards of directors of the corporations furnishing fire protection in the districts affected, shall have the authority to relocate the boundary lines between such fire districts in accordance with the petition or in such other manner as to the board may seem proper. Upon receipt of such petition, the board of county commissioners shall set a date and time for a public hearing on the petition, and notice of such hearing shall be published in some newspaper having general circulation within the districts to be affected once a week for two weeks preceding the time of the hearing. Such hearings may be adjourned from time to time and no further notice is required of such adjourned hearings. In the event any boundaries of fire districts are altered or relocated under this section, the same shall take effect at the beginning of the next succeeding fiscal year after such action is taken.

(4)        In the case of adjoining fire districts having in effect a different rate of tax for fire protection, the board of county commissioners, upon petition of two thirds of the owners of the territory involved and after receiving a favorable recommendation of the fire protection commissioners and the boards of directors of the corporations furnishing fire protection in the districts affected, may transfer such territory from one district to another and therefore relocate the boundary lines between such fire districts in accordance  with the petition or in such other manner as the board may deem proper. Upon receipt of such petition, the board of county commissioners shall set a date and time for a public hearing on the petition, and notice of such hearing shall be  published in some newspaper having general circulation within the districts to be affected once a week for two weeks preceding the time of the hearing. Such hearings may be adjourned from time to time and no further notice is required of such adjourned hearings. In the event any boundaries of fire districts are relocated under this section, the same shall take effect at the beginning of the next succeeding fiscal year after such action is taken.

(5)        The area of any fire protection district may be increased by including within the boundaries of the district any adjoining territory lying within the corporate limits of the city if the territory is not already included within a fire protection district, provided both the city governing body and the county commissioners of the county or counties in which the fire protection district is located all agree by resolution to such inclusion. (1955, c. 1270; 1959, c. 805, s. 5; 1965, cc. 625, 1101; 1987, c. 711, s. 2.)

 

§ 69-25.12.  Privileges and taxes where territory added to district.

In case any territory is added to any fire protection district, from and after such addition, the taxpayers and other residents of said added territory shall have the same rights and privileges and the taxpayers shall pay taxes at the same rates as if said territory had originally been included in the said fire protection district. (1955, c. 1270.)

 

§ 69-25.13.  Privileges and taxes where territory removed from district.

In case any territory is removed from any fire protection district from and after said removal, the taxpayers and other residents of said removed territory shall cease to be entitled to the rights and privileges vested in them by their inclusion in said fire protection district, and the taxpayers shall no longer be required to pay taxes upon their property within said district. (1955, c. 1270.)

 

§ 69-25.14.  Contract with city or town to which all or part of district annexed concerning property of district and furnishing of fire protection.

Whenever all or any part of the area included within the territorial limits of a fire protection district is annexed to or becomes a part of a city or town, the governing body of such district may contract with the governing body of such city or town to give, grant or convey to such city or town, with or without consideration, in such manner and on such terms and conditions as the governing body of such district shall deem to be in the best interests of the inhabitants of the district, all or any part of its property, including, but without limitation, any fire-fighting equipment or facilities, and may provide in such contract for the furnishing of fire protection by the city or town or by the district. (1957, c. 526.)

 

§ 69-25.15.  When district or portion thereof annexed by municipality furnishing fire protection.

(a)        When the whole or any portion of a fire protection district has been annexed by a municipality furnishing fire protection to its citizens, then such fire protection district or the portion thereof so annexed shall immediately thereupon cease to be a fire protection district or a portion of a fire protection district; and such district or portion thereof so annexed shall no longer be subject to G.S. 69-25.4 authorizing the board of county commissioners to levy and collect a tax in such district for the purpose of furnishing fire protection therein.

(b)        Nothing herein shall be deemed to prevent the board of county commissioners from levying and collecting taxes for fire protection in the remaining portion of a fire protection district not annexed by a municipality, as aforesaid.

(c)        When all or part of a fire protection district is annexed, and the effective date of the annexation is a date other than a date in the month of June, the amount of the fire protection district tax levied on property in the district for the fiscal year in which municipal taxes are prorated under G.S. 160A-58.10 shall be multiplied by the following fraction: the denominator shall be 12 and the numerator shall be the number of full calendar months remaining in the fiscal year following the day on which the annexation becomes effective. For each owner, the product of the multiplication is the prorated fire protection payment. The finance officer of the city shall obtain from the assessor or tax collector of the county where the annexed territory was located a list of the owners of property on which fire protection district taxes were levied in the territory being annexed, and the city shall, no later than 90 days after the effective date of the annexation, pay the amount of the prorated fire protection district payment to the owners of that property. Such payments shall come from any funds not otherwise restricted by law.

(d)       Whenever a city is required to make fire protection district tax payments by subsection (c) of this section, and the city has paid or has contracted to pay to a rural fire department funds under G.S. 160A-58.57, the county shall pay to the city from funds of the rural fire protection district an amount equal to the amount paid by the city (or to be paid by the city) to a rural fire department under G.S. 160A-58.57 on account of annexation of territory in the rural fire protection district for the number of months in that fiscal year used in calculating the numerator under subsection (c) of this section; provided that the required payments by the county to the city shall not exceed the total of fire protection district payments made to taxpayers in the district on account of that annexation.  (1957, c. 1219; 1985, c. 707, ss. 1, 2; 1987, c. 45, s. 1; 2017-102, s. 14.4(a).)

 

§ 69-25.16.  Exclusion from rural fire protection districts.

There shall be excluded from any rural fire protection district, and the provisions of this Article shall not apply to, an electric generating plant, together with associated land and facilities, which provides electricity to the public; provided that this section shall not apply to any rural fire protection district in existence on May 1, 1971. (1971, c. 297.)

 

§ 69-25.17.  Validation of fire protection funds appropriated in providing rescue and ambulance services.

All prior appropriations and expenditures by any county board of commissioners of funds derived from taxes levied in rural fire protection districts, but used to provide rescue and ambulance services within said districts, are hereby approved, confirmed, validated, and declared to be proper, authorized, and legal. (1977, c. 131, s. 1.)

 

 

Article 4.

Hotels; Safety Provisions.

§§ 69-26 through 69-38: Recodified as Article 81 of Chapter 58.

 

 

Article 5.

Authority and Liability of Firemen.

§ 69-39 through 69-39.1:  Recodified as Article 82 of Chapter 58.

 

 

Article 6.

Mutual Aid between Fire Departments.

§ 69-40:  Recodified as Article 83 of Chapter 58.