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Delaware fire department oversight proposed legislation causes stir

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Controversial legislation giving the Delaware Fire Prevention Commission the power to rule on fire department grievances has been delayed until next year.

Rep. Danny Short’s House Bill 193 aims to give the commission the authority to create rules and regulations, investigate firefighter injuries and hear and resolve complaints from or about firefighters and fire departments.

“It basically provides oversight in the firefighter world,” said Short (R-Seaford), who is a former volunteer firefighter. “It provides a process in which complaints can be handled in a legitimate way.”

The commission’s current responsibilities include overseeing the state fire school, fire marshal’s office and EMTs, according to Commissioner Ron Marvel.

Firefighters work after extinguishing a fire in a  home on the 2200 block of Carter Street in Wilmington, reported about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, 2021.

Six of the organization’s commissioners are appointed by the governor, while the seventh is the most recent past president of the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association, Marvel said.

Right now, firefighter and fire department complaints are handled within the departments, according to Short. If someone believes a department’s ruling is unjust, their only recourse is to sue. 

“It’s one of the few agencies that hasn’t been delegated to the governor’s cabinet,” Short said.

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Source: GANNETT Syndication Service