PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE
FIREWARDS, FIREFIGHTERS, AND FIRE HAZARDS
Firewards, Fire Chiefs and Fire Departments; Organization, Powers and Duties
154:7 Authority of Fire Officer in Charge.
I. Terms used in this section shall be construed as follows, unless a different meaning is clearly apparent from the language or context, or is otherwise inconsistent with the manifest intention of the legislature.
(a) "Fire" shall include any and all effects of combustion.
(b) "Service call" shall include any request for the services of the fire department which involves a non-emergency.
(c) "Other emergency" shall include any other real emergency which does not directly involve the extinguishment of an actual fire; except that with respect to a propelled vehicle accident on or immediately adjacent to a way as defined in RSA 259:125 the term is limited to:
(1) An accident involving the transportation of any hazardous material as defined in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(2) An accident involving the spillage of fuel.
(3) An accident involving injury to persons in places where the fire department is responsible for the provision of emergency medical services.
(d) "Fire officer in charge" shall include the fire chief or any other elected or appointed fire officer or any member serving in the capacity of fire officer in charge.
(e) "Police officer" shall include any constable or other officer authorized to make arrests or serve process who is invested by law with authority to direct, control or regulate traffic.
II. While any duly constituted fire department recognized by the state fire marshal is responding to or operating at a fire, service call or other emergency, the fire officer in charge shall have the following authority:
(a) To control and direct the activities at such scene.
(b) To order any persons to leave any building or place in the vicinity of such scene for the purpose of protecting such persons from injury or remove persons interfering with duties.
(c) To blockade any public highway, street or private right-of-way temporarily while at such scene.
(d) To trespass at any time of the day or night without liability while at such scene.
(e) To enter any building, including private dwellings, or upon any premises where a fire is in progress, or where there is reasonable cause to believe a fire is in progress, for the purpose of extinguishing the fire.
(f) To enter any building, including private dwellings, or premises near the scene of the fire for the purpose of protecting the building or premises or for the purpose of extinguishing the fire which is in progress in another building or premises.
(g) To direct without liability the removal or destruction of any fence, house, buildings, vehicle or other thing which the fire officer in charge may judge necessary to prevent the further spread of the fire.
(h) To request and be supplied materials such as sand, treatments, chemicals and special equipment when it is deemed a necessity, to prevent the further spread of the fire.
(i) To order disengagement or discouplement of any convoy, caravan or train of vehicles, craft or railway cars if deemed a necessity in the interest of safety of persons or property.
(j) To direct industrial management or other personnel and equipment within the jurisdiction of the fire officer in charge whenever such officer's company or department is called to respond to such, if in the officer's opinion such action is in the interest of public safety.
(k) Upon request, to apprise the state fire marshal, or designee, of all hazardous materials incidents and to keep the state fire marshal or designee informed of the situation. The state fire marshal or designee shall take control of a hazardous materials incident upon the request of the local fire chief or fire official in charge, or if the state fire marshal or designee believes that the welfare of the public is not being appropriately served. Upon assuming control of a hazardous materials incident, the state fire marshal or designee shall have all of the authority outlined in this chapter.
III. Except as provided in RSA 154:7-a, the police officer in charge shall have authority to direct police officers at the scene to direct, control and regulate traffic, to gather investigative information, and to preserve and collect evidence, subject to the authority conferred upon the fire officer in charge by this section.
Source. RS 111:2. CS 114:2. GS 96:3. GL 106:3. PS 115:6. PL 146:6. RL 175:6. RSA 154:7. 1975, 443:6. 1979, 344:6. 1983, 393:6. 1989, 309:2. 1992, 154:6, 7. 1998, 318:15, 16, eff. Aug. 25, 1998.