Fire District No. 2 voters pass new bylaws at annual meeting

May 15, 2018

Fire District No. 2 residents approved the department’s budget and a new set of district bylaws at its May 14 annual meeting.

Voters passed the district's proposed $756,658 budget with little opposition. The district is trying to dedicate funds to purchase a new fire engine within the next few years, which comes with a $700,000 price tag.

New district bylaws, however, were a bit more controversial. The Prudential Committee had been working on a new set of bylaws for the past six months. Among the changes was allowing firefighters to serve on the committee and whether quorums should be enacted for district meetings.

Current committee member Gregory Edgcomb is also a firefighter. State ethics laws require members in both roles to submit paperwork to the state addressing the substantial role they play as a firefighter, which no other member of the department can perform, in order for the person to continue being a district firefighter. Edgcomb is the most distinguished and certified firefighter on the dive team.

District residents expressed concerns with possible conflicts of interest. Prudential Committee chair Ralph Medeiros opposed to the idea, stating there have been instances where a firefighter on the board has had to recuse himself from voting, often leading to a stalemate on the three-member board. One resident was worried about the chance of all three committee members being firefighters and how the process would work.

After an hour-long discussion and voting down one proposed amendment, voters decided they would keep the section, but take out any language regarding a chief or subordinate officer being a moderator. The amended bylaw now states a Prudential Committee member could be a firefighter so long as they met the state statue indicating the person served a purpose no other firefighter could. It passed with 19 votes.

Another change in the bylaws related to quorum, or how many district voters are required to conduct an annual or special meeting. Under the old bylaw, at least 25 people must be present at a special meeting.

After much discussion, it was lowered to 15 people for an annual meeting and 25 at a special town meeting, instead of 25 for both.