Senate Bill No. 636
(By Senators Unger, Jenkins, Dempsey and Minard)
[Introduced March 21, 2005; referred to the Committee
on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto a new article, designated §29-3D-1, §29-3D-2,
§29-3D-3, §29-3D-4, §29-3D-5 and §29-3D-6, all relating to
establishing a grant program for volunteer fire departments;
providing for grant funding;
defining certain terms and
phrases; creating the
Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program;
providing for guidelines and procedures by legislative rule;
providing for awards and grants; providing
of State Fire Commission for administering the Volunteer Fire
Department Grant Program; creating the State Fire Commission
Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund to be maintained in the
State Treasury; providing collections are to be paid into
special fund; granting State Fire Commission authority to
pledge the collections as security for refunding revenue
bonds; and providing the Commission authority to finance projects on a cash basis.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended
by adding thereto a new article, designated §29-3D-1, §29-3D-2,
§29-3D-3, §29-3D-4, §29-3D-5 and §29-3D-6, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3D. VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPRTMENTS GRANT FUNDING.
§29-3D-1. Short title.
This article shall be known and may be cited as the Volunteer
Fire Department Act.
The following words and phrases when used in this article have
the following meanings:
(a) "Commission" means the State Fire Commission.
(b) "Facility" means a structure or portion thereof intended
for the purpose of storage or protection of fire fighting
apparatus, ambulances and rescue vehicles and related equipment and
gear. The term does not include meeting halls, social halls,
social rooms, lounges or any other facility not directly related to
fire fighting or the furnishing of ambulance or rescue services.
(c) "Grant program" means the Volunteer Fire Department Grant
(d) "Volunteer fire department" means a nonprofit chartered
corporation, association or organization located in this state
which provides fire protection or rescue services and which may offer other voluntary emergency services within this state.
Voluntary emergency services provided by a volunteer fire company
may include voluntary ambulance and voluntary rescue services.
(e) "Volunteer rescue company" means a nonprofit chartered
corporation, association or organization located in this state that
provides rescue services as part of the response to fires and/or
vehicle accidents within this state.
§29-3D-3. Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program; guidelines and
procedures; awards and grants.
(a) The Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program is hereby
established and shall be administered by the Commission in
consultation with the State Fire Marshall. Grants provided under
this program shall be used to improve and enhance the capabilities
of the volunteer fire department to provide fire fighting,
ambulance and rescue services.
(b) The Commission shall propose rules for legislative
approval in accordance with the provisions of article three,
chapter twenty-nine-a, designed to develop guidelines, procedures
and all applications necessary to implement the grant program.
(c) Authorization. --
The Commission is hereby authorized to
make a one-time grant award to each eligible volunteer fire
department for the following:
(1) Construction and renovation of the fire department's
facility and purchase or repair of fixtures and furnishings necessary to maintain or improve the capability of the department
to provide fire, ambulance and rescue services.
(2) Repair of fire fighting, ambulance or rescue equipment or
(3) Training and certification of members.
(d) Limits. --
(1) Grants shall be not less two thousand five hundred dollars
and not more than fifteen thousand dollars per volunteer fire
(2) Grants may be awarded on a pro rata basis.
(3) In a municipality where there are two or more volunteer
fire departments, each entity will be eligible for a grant.
(e) Time for filing application and department action. --
(1) The Commission shall provide applications for grants under
this article to every volunteer fire department in this state on or
before the thirty-first day of July, two thousand six.
(2) Volunteer fire departments seeking grants under this
article shall submit completed applications to the Commission on or
before the thirty-first day of December, two thousand six. The
Commission shall act to approve or disapprove the application by
the first day of May, two thousand seven. Applications which have
not been approved or disapproved by the Commission by the first day
of May, two thousand seven, shall be considered approved.
(f) Eligibility. --
To receive grant funds under this article, a volunteer fire department shall have actively responded
to one or more fire or rescue emergencies since the first day of
July, two thousand five.
§29-3D-4. Additional powers of State Fire Commission in
administering Volunteer Fire Department Grant
The State Fire Commission, in addition to the powers set forth
in article three of this chapter, and in furtherance of its duties
in administering the Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program, has
(1) To sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded;
(2) To have a seal and alter the same at pleasure;
(3) To contract to acquire and to acquire, in the name of the
Commission, by purchase, lease-purchase not to exceed a term of
twenty-five years, or otherwise, real property or rights or
easements necessary or convenient for its corporate purposes and to
exercise the power of eminent domain to accomplish those purposes;
(4) To acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property
for its corporate purposes;
(5) To make bylaws for the management and rule of its affairs;
(6) To appoint, contract with and employ attorneys, bond
counsel, accountants, construction and financial experts,
underwriters, financial advisers, trustees, managers, officers and
such other employees and agents as may be necessary in the judgment of the Commission and to fix their compensation: Provided
contracts entered into by the State Fire Commission in connection
with the issuance of bonds under this article to provide
professional and technical services, including, without limitation,
accounting, actuarial, underwriting, consulting, trustee, bond
counsel, legal services and contracts relating to the purchase or
sale of bonds are subject to the provisions of article three,
chapter five-a of this code: Provided, however
notwithstanding any other provisions of this code, any authority of
the Attorney General of this state relating to the review of
contracts and other documents to effectuate the issuance of bonds
under this article shall be exclusively limited to the form of the
contract and document: Provided further
, That the Attorney General
of this state shall complete all reviews of contracts and documents
relating to the issuance of bonds under this article within ten
calendar days of receipt of the contract and document for review;
(7) To make contracts and to execute all instruments necessary
or convenient to effectuate the intent of and to exercise the
powers granted to it by this article;
(8) To renegotiate all contracts entered into by it whenever,
due to a change in situation, it appears to the authority that its
interests will be best served;
(9) To acquire by purchase, eminent domain or otherwise all
real property or interests in the property necessary or convenient to accomplish the purposes of this article;
(10) To require proper maintenance and insurance of any
project authorized under this section, including flood insurance
for any facility within the one hundred year flood plain at which
authority funds are expended;
(11) To charge rent for the use of all or any part of a
project or buildings at any time financed, constructed, acquired or
improved, in whole or in part, with the revenues of the Commission;
(12) To assist any volunteer fire department that chooses to
acquire land, buildings, capital improvements or equipment for
existing volunteer facilities, by lease from a private or public
lessor for a term not to exceed twenty-five years with an option to
purchase pursuant to an investment contract with the lessor on such
terms and conditions as may be determined to be in the best
interests of the Commission and the State Fire Marshall, consistent
with the purposes of this article, by transferring funds to the
Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program;
(13) To accept and expend any gift, grant, contribution,
bequest or endowment of money and equipment to, or for the benefit
of, the Commission or any project under this article, from the
State of West Virginia or any other source for any or all of the
purposes specified in this article or for any one or more of the
enumerated purposes as may be specified in connection with the
gift, grant, contribution, bequest or endowment;
(14) To enter on any lands and premises for the purpose of
making surveys, soundings and examinations;
(15) To contract for architectural, engineering or other
professional services considered necessary or economical by the
Commission to provide consultative or other services to the
Commission or to any volunteer fire department requesting
professional services offered by the Commission, or to evaluate any
facilities plan or equipment need;
(16) To provide funds on an emergency basis to repair or
replace property or equipment for volunteer fire departments;
(17) To transfer moneys to custodial accounts maintained by
the State Fire Commission for the purposes of upgrading the
facilities or equipment of volunteer fire departments;
(18) To enter into agreements with volunteer fire departments'
and persons, firms or corporations to facilitate the development
and upgrade volunteer fire companies and departments facilities and
equipment needs; and
(19) To do all things necessary or convenient to carry out the
powers given in this article.
§29-3D-5. State Fire Commission authorized to issue refunding
revenue bonds and/or general obligation bonds for
volunteer fire department projects and equipment.
(a) The State Fire Commission may, by resolution, in
accordance with the provisions of this article, issue revenue bonds of the Commission to finance the cost of construction of facilities
or the provision of equipment to volunteer fire departments or to
refund, at the discretion of the Commission, bonds issued to
finance the cost of the construction of facilities or the provision
of equipment. The principal of, interest and redemption premium,
if any, on such bonds shall be payable solely from the special fund
provided for payment.
(b) The State Fire Commission may, in accordance with the
provisions of the Constitution of West Virginia, issue general
obligation bonds from time to time as authorized by referendum
pursuant to resolution duly adopted by the Legislature, to finance
the cost of construction of facilities and provision of equipment
for volunteer fire departments in this state.
§29-3D-6. State Fire Commission Volunteer Fire Department Project
Fund in State Treasury; collections to be paid into
special fund; authority to pledge the collections as
security for refunding revenue bonds; authority to
finance projects on a cash basis.
There is continued in the State Treasury a Volunteer Fire
Department Project Fund to be expended by the Commission as
provided in this article. The Volunteer Fire Department Project
Fund shall be an interest-bearing account with interest credited to
and deposited in the Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund and
expended in accordance with the provisions of this article.
The State Fire Commission may pledge all or any part of the
revenues paid into the Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund that
are needed to meet the requirements of any revenue bond issue or
issues authorized by this article prior to the twentieth day of
July, two thousand eight, or revenue bonds issued to refund revenue
bonds issued prior to that date, including the payment of principal
of, interest and redemption premium, if any, on the revenue bonds
and the establishing and maintaining of a reserve fund or funds for
the payment of the principal of, interest and redemption premium,
if any, on the revenue bond issue or issues when other moneys
pledged may be insufficient for the payment of the principal,
interest and redemption premium, including any additional
protective pledge of revenues that the Commission in its discretion
has provided by resolution authorizing the issuance of the bonds or
in any trust agreement made in connection with the bond issue.
Additionally, the Commission may provide in the resolution and in
the trust agreement for priorities on the revenues paid into the
Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund that are necessary for the
protection of the prior rights of the holders of bonds issued at
different times under the provisions of this article.
Any balance remaining in the Volunteer Fire Department Project
Fund after the Commission has issued bonds authorized by this
article and after the requirements of all funds, including reserve
funds established in connection with the bonds issued prior to the twentieth day of July, two thousand eight, pursuant to this article
have been satisfied may be used for the redemption of any of the
outstanding bonds issued under this article which by their terms
are then redeemable, or for the purchase of the bonds at the market
price, but not exceeding the price, if any, at which the bonds are
in the same year redeemable and all bonds redeemed or purchased
shall immediately be canceled and shall not again be issued.
The State Fire Commission, in its discretion, may use the
moneys in the Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund to finance the
cost of construction of facilities or provision of equipment as
authorized in accordance with the provisions of this article on a
cash basis. Any pledge of moneys in the fund for revenue bonds
issued prior to the twentieth day of July, two thousand eight, is
a prior and superior charge on the fund over the use of any of the
moneys in the fund to pay for the cost of any project on a cash
That any expenditures from the fund, other than
for the retirement of revenue bonds, may only be made by the
Commission in accordance with the provisions of this article.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish a grant
program for volunteer fire departments. Toward this end the bill
provides for grant funding; defines certain terms and phrases;
creates the Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program; provides for
guidelines and procedures by legislative rule; provides for awards
and grants; provides additional powers of State Fire Commission for
administering the Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program; creates
the State Fire Commission Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund to be maintained in the State Treasury; provides collections are to be
paid into special fund; grants State Fire Commission authority to
pledge the collections as security for refunding revenue bonds;
and, provides the Commission authority to finance projects on a
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.