Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments
Chapter 47, Part III
By Holice and Debbie
AYES--Allen, Ames, Andrews, Angel, Beach, Bell, Cole, Cook, Cornell, Dutcher, Folger, Havens, Hayt, Hobbs, Julian, Laimbier, Low, Mauger, Strong, White, and Williams--21.
NAYS--Allaben, Chrystie, Cozans, Fields, Murphy, and Woodruff--6.
On the fourth of March the Assembly received a message from the Senate asking concurrence in the bill, which was read a first time, and sent to the Committee on Cities. A week later the Speaker presented a communication from the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen in favor of a Paid Fire Department. On March 15 Assemblyman Perry, of Kings, for the committee on Cities--J. C. Perry, Kings; T. E. Stewart, New York; W. P. Angel, Cattaraugus; Alexander Ward, New York; G. M. Holles, Otsego; Alexander Robertson, Albany; and J. B. Morey, of Livingston--reported in favor of the measure, which was referred to the Committee of the Whole. March 16, in Senate, the Hon. T. G. Alvord presented the petition of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen as sent to the House. Assemblyman Wood, on the twenty-third of March, presented the report of the minority in the Committee of the Affairs of Cities against the measure. Its conclusions were, in substance:
1st. That the present system is in actual operation with beneficial results.
2nd. That the proper mode of legislation on the subject is to improve the present system without making an entire and untried change.
3rd. that as a matter of fact, the present system had from time to time adopted such practical reforms as were demanded by the progress of society and special contingencies.
4th. That the abuses alleged to exist were greatly exaggerated in the heat of an oral argument.
5th. that the economy of the present Department is equal to the average of the Paid Department cited.
6th. That the Metropolitan Fire Department Bill, by its form and terms, was unjust to the people in not providing, either by specific sections or the establishment of any organization for economy or efficiency, or the introduction of any reforms.
Messrs. Creamer, Lyons, Keegan, and Smith spoke against the bill and in favor of the Volunteers, and Mr. Van Buren supported the measure, which was ordered to a third reading; Messrs. Angel, Bemus, Crowell, Kimball, Lewis, and Strong, Republicans, and Messrs. Blauvelt, Creamer, Gaughan, Keegan, Loutrel, Lyons, Maloy, McDonald, Murray, Seebacher, Smith and Ward of the New York delegation voting nay, while their fellow-citizens, Van Buren, Stewart, and Reed, voted for it. Messrs. Ingraham and Salmon did not vote, the former being absent and the latter excused. The bill hung by a thread in the house, but on the thirtieth of March, it came up for a third reading, and was passed amid some excitement. The ayes were--(Democrats marked "D".)
The nays were (Republicans marked "R".):
Mr. Angel was excused from voting.
The Billed as passed was as follows:
CHAPTER 249: AN ACT TO CREATE A METROPOLITAN FIRE DISTRICT AND ESTABLISH A FIRE DEPARTMENT THEREIN.
Passed March 30, 1865; three-fifths being present.
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:
Section 1. the Cities of new York and Brooklyn shall constitute and they are hereby united into a district to be known as the Metropolitan Fire District of the State of New York.
Sec. 2. The government shall nominate, and by and with the consent of the Senate, appoint four citizens, residents of the said district, to be "Metropolitan Fire Commissioners" (which office is hereby created with the duties and powers herein contained and imposed), who shall form a Metropolitan Fire Department, to take and have, as provided by this act, control and management of all officers, men, property, measures, and action, for the prevention and extinguishment of fires within the said district to be organized as herein provided, and to be known as the "Metropolitan Fire Department." Said commissioners shall hold the said office respectively for the terms following, to wit: One for two years, one for four years, one for six years, and one for eight years; and at the expiration of each term respectively a successor shall be appointed in the manner above provided, who shall hold said office for the term of eight years. Vacancies in said office shall be filled by temporary appointments by the remaining members of said Department, to hold until the same are filled by the Senate on nomination by the governor. Said commissioners shall be subject to removal by the governor, as is provided by the law applicable to the removals of sheriffs, until the commissioners contemplated to be removed shall have been served with written specific charges stating the derelictions complained of, and have been afforded an adequate opportunity to publicly answer the same and make his defense thereto.
Sec. 3. Immediately after the appointment of such commissioners they shall meet in the office of the Secretary of State and proceed under the direction to determine by lot which of such commissioners shall hold such office for each of the respective terms of two, four, six and eight years; where upon they shall take and file with said secretary the oath of office prescribed for State officers, and the Secretary of State shall give to each a certificate of appointment for the respective terms of office so determined as aforesaid.
Sec. 4. Said commissioners, on being qualified, shall meet and organize "The Metropolitan Fire Department," by electing one of said commissioners as president, and appointing a person as secretary, whereupon they shall possess and have all the power and authority conferred upon or possessed by any and all officers of the Fire Department of the City of New York, and to the exclusion of all such officers, and such other powers and duties in said district as are hereinafter conferred. Three of said commissioners shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, but the surviving members may at any time fill a vacancy, as provided in the second section of this act.
Sec. 5. The said "metropolitan Fire Department" is hereby empowered and directed to possess and exercise fully and exclusively all the powers and perform all the duties for the government, management, maintenance, and direction of the Fire Department of the City of New York, and the premises and property thereof which at the time of the organization of said Department are possessed by or under the control of the boards and officers of the Fire Department of said city, or the officers or employees of said city, said powers and duties to be exercised and performed, and said property used in the said city or otherwise, as hereinafter, provided, and the said Department shall hereafter have sole and exclusive power and authority to extinguish fires in said City of New York; and all acts conferring upon any other officer and officers any power in relation to the extinguishment of fires in said city are hereby repealed.
Sec. 6. The Board of Commissioners shall have full power to provide in and for the City of New York, supplies, horses, tools, implements, and apparatus of all kinds (to be used in the extinguishing of fires), and fire telegraphs, to provide suitable locations for the same, and to buy, sell, construct, repair, and have the care of the same, and take any and all such action in the premises as may be reasonably necessary and proper.
Sec. 7. The Department hereby created is hereby empowered and directed to possess and exercise full and exclusive power and discretion for the government, management, maintenance, and direction of the several buildings and premises and property and appurtenances thereto, and all apparatus, hose, implements and tools of any and all kinds which at the time of the appointment of the commissioners aforesaid were under the charge and control of any and all city officers, or officers of the Fire Department in said city for the use and benefit of the Fire Department of the City of New York; and it shall be the duty of all persons and officers in possession of any property, real and personal, belonging to, or set apart for, or in use by, or for the Fire Department of said city, to deliver the same to the possession and control of said "Metropolitan Fire Department."
Section 8 provided that any commissioner accepting or holding any other political office, or who, holding office as fire commissioner, should be publicly nominated for another elective office without declining the same, should be deemed to have forfeited his office. Section 9 provided for the selection of one of the commissioners as treasurer, on a bond of fifty thousands dollars.
Section 10 provided as follows:
Sec. 10. The "Metropolitan Fire Commissioners" and the comptroller and mayor of the City of New York, convened as a Board of Estimate, five of whom shall form a quorum for business, shall, annually, on or before the first of July, make up a financial estimate of the sums required annually for the payment of salaries, compensation, and rents, for the purchase of supplies, horses, apparatus of any and all kinds, tools, hose, implements, and keep all of the same in repair; and generally for the purposes of this act, and such general and contingent expenses as may from time to time in the judgment of said Board of Estimate become necessary and proper, with the enumeration thereof. The said estimate shall then be submitted to a Board of Revision, composed of the Board of Supervisors of the County of New York. If the said Board of Revision, on or before the second Monday of October, shall object, in writing, to such estimate of any portion thereof, and so notify the said Board of Estimate, it shall be the duty of the latter to immediately and carefully revise the same, and consider the said objections. If such Board of Estimate shall adhere to their original action of estimate, or if they shall modify the same without increasing the said estimate, then their final determination shall be binding upon the City of New York.
Sec. 11. The Board of Estimate created by the tenth section shall immediately after the organization of the said "Metropolitan Fire Department" meet, and make an estimate of the probably expenses of the Department in all branches of expenditure which will be required for the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, before money can be realized under the tax levy for that year. They shall specify, as far as may be, to the several objects and purpose of expenditure. This estimate shall be immediately submitted to the Board of Revision, above provided in Section 10, for consideration. Said Board of Revision shall within ten days act upon said estimate, and return the same to the Board of Estimate with their objections, amendments, or approval, and said Board of Estimate shall take final action thereon, in the manner provided in Section 10. Whereupon the amount so estimated hall be levied and collected by the Board of Supervisors of the County of New York, in the same manner as is herein provided in relation to annual estimates for the expenses of the said "Metropolitan Fire Department."
Sec. 12. The comptroller of the City of New York shall have the power, and it shall be his duty to borrow on the credit of said city, the amounts of said estimate for the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, in anticipation of the receipt of said sum from the levy, and pay the same to the chamberlain of said city, to be drawn and used by the metropolitan Fire Commissioners on their requisitions, from time to time, in such sums as they shall deem necessary, and for the purposes specified in this section. The said comptroller shall have the power to issue bonds on the name of the mayor, aldermen, and commonalty of the City of new York, which bonds shall be signed by the said mayor and comptroller, and authenticated by the seal of the corporation of the City of New York.
Transcribed by Holice B. Young
HTML by Debbie
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