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Strong vs. Weak Chief

18412 Views 15 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  BLUE BLOOD
Mass has the unusual system of "strong" chiefs (41/97) and "weak" chiefs" (41/97A). Yet I am having a heck of a time finding a resource that clearly defines the difference. Does anyone know of one? Thanks!
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Being a strong chief does not give the authority to appoint anyone, nor does it give a life long appointment, its is by contract just a weak chief. I know because I worked for a strong chief and the selectboard refused to appoint people he wanted to hire at first, but being the persuasive type he is he made an argument they could refuse. Point is that he could not just appoint us. Second he had a contract and did not have life long appointment.
Macop, please refer to MGL 48 Section 42 copied below.... You will find that the Ma Strong Chief Law for Fire DOES give appointing authority to a Stong Chief and specifically states "shall have full and absolute authority in the administration of the department", opposed to Section 42A which addresses Weak Chiefs where they are not an appointing authority and bound more to the instruction and orders of the Select Board who may "make suitable regulations governing the fire department and the officers and firemen thereof." Additionally, Strong Fire Chief's are technically appointed for life similar to those who are appointed under Civil Service. An employment contract for a Strong Chief vs a Weak Chief is specifically for compensation and benefits with the exception of those communities that have a population under 5000 (also listed in the law below). The community does not have to renew a contract; however, they also cannot just remove the Chief without Cause.

Section 42: Establishment of fire departments; appointment of fire chief; compensation; removal; powers and duties

Section 42. Towns accepting the provisions of this section and sections forty-three and forty-four, or which have accepted corresponding provisions of earlier laws may establish a fire department to be under the control of an officer to be known as the chief of the fire department. The chief shall be appointed by the selectmen, and shall receive such salary as the selectmen may from time to time determine, not exceeding in the aggregate the amount annually appropriated therefor. He may be removed for cause by the selectmen at any time after a hearing. He shall have charge of extinguishing fires in the town and the protection of life and property in case of fire. He shall purchase subject to the approval of the selectmen and keep in repair all property and apparatus used for and by the fire department. He shall have and exercise all the powers and discharge all the duties conferred or imposed by statute upon engineers in towns except as herein provided, and shall appoint a deputy chief and such officers and firemen as he may think necessary, and may remove the same at any time for cause and after a hearing. He shall have full and absolute authority in the administration of the department, shall make all rules and regulations for its operation, shall report to the selectmen from time to time as they may require, and shall annually report to the town the condition of the department with his recommendations thereon; he shall fix the compensation of the permanent and call members of the fire department subject to the approval of the selectmen. In the expenditure of money the chief shall be subject to such further limitations as the town may from time to time prescribe. The appointment of the chief of the fire department in any town or district having a population of five thousand or less may be for a period of three years.
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