FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners will ask fire departments or associations that the county contracts with to provide services to unorganized territories, to submit documentation to show they are in compliance with state requirements.

County Administrative Assistant Julie Magoon said she came across an article in the June 2010 Maine Municipal Association’s “Maine Townsman” magazine written by freelance writer Lee Burnett, that explained the need for volunteer fire departments and associations to keep current with state requirements. If they’re not in compliance, volunteer firefighters in incorporated fire associations may be personally liable due to lapses in the filing of routine paperwork with the Maine Secretary of State’s Office, Magoon said, referencing the article.

They also may not be protected as municipal employees under the Maine Tort Claims Act.

In some cases, according to the article, incorporated fire associations have expanded services but never changed the original articles of incorporation on file with the state and in other cases, fire departments have failed to file required annual reports.

Some of them have been administratively dissolved by the Secretary of State’s Office, Magoon said.

The Maine Municipal Association is concerned that many fire departments are operating outside their authority and don’t realize it, she said.

They need to file their paperwork with the state annually, she said.

A volunteer fire association must be in good standing in order to receive municipal support, she said.

The article states that only an “incorporated association is a legal method of providing fire protection services.” It also states that according to the law, a municipality may raise or appropriate money only for an incorporated association.

Some departments in the county may be covered through a municipality that there is no information listed on the state’s site. Others that are on the state site as not being in good standing may have corrected their status.

Commissioners asked that Magoon get documentation from the departments they contract with to make sure they are recognized by the state.

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