Liabiilty for Outside Operations

Liabiilty for Outside Operations

Mecklenburg County, N. C., Commissioners and the legal department of the City of Charlotte, N. C., are wrestling with the problems concerning the liability of members of volunteer fire companies in the areas outside and adjacent to the City of Charlotte.

Citizens of Barryhill community appeared before the Commissioners on November 20, explaining that the residents of that community already have made arrangements to organize a volunteer department and have bought hose and other equipment for its use. The members, it was explained, lack official standing and if someone should be injured because of their fire-fighting activities, they likely would be personally liable for damages under the present law.

The law, passed by the legislature to allow counties to provide fire protection for residents outside of city limits, gives the County Commissioners the right to make a part of the official county government community fire departments, such as that proposed by the Barryhill citizens. Since the county governments or its units cannot be sued, such arrangement would give the Barryhill enterprise the protection it needs, according to the belief of officials.

It was pointed out that the volunteer fire department is used extensively in many thickly populated communities of the north, where full-time departments are unavailable. With the county government helping out by furnishing some equipment, and possibly a few regular firemen, the Mecklenburg County Com-

missioners feel that the outlying areas around Charlotte can be given fairly good fire protection, and that without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, which would be required if fullfledged fire departments should be established throughout the rural areas.

Another fire department problem before the powers-that-be in Charlotte is the retention of firemen hired on a temporary basis during the acute manpower shortage for the Fire Department of Charlotte. The problem was posed when City Manager R. W. Flack sent a memorandum to heads of departments suggesting that the extra men be given their release upon arrival of the men in the service to fill their old jobs. Flack suggested January 1, 1946, as the limit.

In answer, fire department officials said they would request that the temporary workers be accorded full Civil Service status, with their period of wartime duty serving as qualification in lieu of the regular tests. Officials state that these men will be needed to keep the department up to the strength required by the growing city of Charlotte.

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