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Persons liable to watch, &c. R. S. 17, § 1.

Persons ex-
R. S. 17, § 2.

Penalty on per

sons liable, &c.,
R. S. 17, §§ 9, 10.

1839, 135.
1852, 312.

Watch districts
may be estab-
lished in vil-
1855, 274, §§ 1,5.

Selectmen, &c.,

to notify meet
ing, upon appli-
cation in writ-
ing, &c.
1855, 274, § 2.


when village is or more towns.

situated in two

1855, 274, § 3.

watch, either by himself or by some person therefor by him appointed, and to see that all persons so warned attend and perform their duty.

SECT. 5. Every male person of the age of eighteen years or upwards, being able of body, or having sufficient estate to hire a substitute, and not exempt, shall be liable to watch and ward in his city or town, and shall perform the duties, be subject to the liabilities, and have the pow ers of watchmen as the same are defined in this chapter.

SECT. 6. Justices of the peace, mayors, aldermen, selectmen, sheriffs, settled ministers of the gospel, and persons living more than two miles from the place where such watch and ward is kept, shall be exempt.

SECT. 7. Persons liable to watch and ward, and without reasonable excuse neglecting or refusing to appear and do duty personally or by sufficient substitute, and constables or officers or members of the watch refusing to execute and observe proper orders, shall forfeit ten dollars, to be recovered by complaint to the use of the commonwealth, or by action of tort to the use the city or town.


SECT. 8. Watch districts may be established and organized in villages containing not less than one thousand persons, for the protection of property against fire, thieves, and robbers, and for keeping the streets quiet in the night time.

SECT. 9. The selectmen of a town, upon the application in writing of not less than seven freeholders, inhabitants of such village the limits of which shall be defined in the application, requiring them to notify a meeting of the persons in such district qualified to vote in town affairs, for considering the expediency of establishing such watch district, shall forthwith give notice to such voters, in the manner in which notice of town meetings is given, to assemble at some suitable place within the district for said purpose, the substance of which shall be expressed in the notification. If the selectmen refuse or neglect to give notice of such meeting, any justice of the peace in the county may so notify the


SECT. 10. When such village belongs to two or more towns, the voters thereof may organize such district at a meeting called and noti fied as provided in the preceding section by any justice of the peace for the county in which either town is situated, to whom application has been made by at least five voters of each town who are inhabitants of such district.


SECT. 11. If at any such meeting the voters present determine to 1855, 274, §§ 4, 5. establish such district, a clerk shall be chosen, who shall be sworn to

keep a true record of the proceedings of all meetings and to perform all
duties of clerk of the district so long as he holds the office. He may
be removed by the district, or may resign, and in case of a vacancy
another may be chosen.

Prudential com-
1855, 274, §§ 5, 6.
Annual meet-

SECT. 12. A prudential committee of not less than three nor more than five persons shall be chosen by ballot, and shall be sworn.

SECT. 13. The prudential committee shall annually issue their war

ings for choice rants to the clerk, requiring him to call a meeting in the month of

of officers.

1855, 274, § 9.

March for the purpose of choosing officers. Such officers shall perform the duties of their offices until others are chosen.

Meetings, how called,

SECT. 14. Meetings of the district shall be called by the clerk when

1855, 274, §§ 2, requested in writing by the prudential committee or seven voters of the

3, 7.

district. He shall give notice thereof by posting written notifications in at least six public places in the district, not less than seven days prior to the meeting, which notifications shall contain a brief statement of the purposes of the meeting. At each of the meetings a moderator shall be chosen, who shall have the powers of the moderator of a town

meeting. After the choice of a clerk he shall preside at subsequent meetings with like powers until a moderator is chosen.



SECT. 15. The district may, at meetings called for the purpose, vote Districts may to raise money for the payment of watchmen and other necessary ex- which shall be penses. The prudential committee shall have the superintendence and under charge control of the watchmen, have charge of and be responsible for the committee, &c. property employed, have the custody and management of the money 1855, 274, §§ 1, 8. raised, expend the same for the purposes specified in the votes of the district, be accountable to the district for the money received by them, and be liable to a suit for such money or other property of the district, in the name of the inhabitants thereof.

SECT. 16. The clerk shall certify to the assessors of the town all Clerk shall cersums of money voted to be raised, which shall be assessed and col- tify to assessors amount to be lected, by the officers of the town in the same manner that the town raised. taxes are assessed and collected, and be paid over to the treasurer, who 11 Met. 374. 1855, 274, § 10. shall hold the same subject to the order of the prudential committee. The assessors, treasurer, and collector, of any town in which such district is organized shall have the powers and perform the duties, in reference to the assessment and collection of said taxes, which they have and perform in the assessment, collection, and abatement, of town taxes: but the sum so voted shall be assessed upon the property real and personal located within such district.

trict is situated


SECT. 17. When a district is composed of parts of two or more Duty of assess towns, the assessors of such towns shall transmit to the clerk of the ors, when disdistrict the amount of taxable property in such part of their respective in two or more towns as is within the limits of the district; the prudential committee 1855, 274, § 11. shall thereupon apportion the money voted to be raised by the district among the respective towns according to the returns thus transmitted, and the same shall be collected and held in the manner provided in the preceding section.

SECT. 18. When the freeholders of a territory adjoining a watch Territory district present to the clerk thereof a petition describing their territory trict, how anand requesting to be annexed to such district, the clerk shall give notice nexed. of the petition at the next annual meeting of the district, when by a vote of the meeting the inhabitants of such territory may be annexed to the di

1855, 274, § 12.


SECT. 19. Watch districts heretofore legally organized shall continue, Watch districts and be subject to the provisions of this chapter in relation to watch heretofore ordistricts.


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Penalty for not
accepting or
R. S. 18, § 2.


20. Penalty for refusing certificate, &c., or
making false one.

21. Three preceding sections not to apply un-
less adopted.

22. Penalty for injuring fire engines.

R. S. 18, § 7.
8 Met. 462.
5 Cush. 269.
11 Cush. 433.
Firewards may
command as-
R. S. 18, § 5.


23. Fire departments may be organized, &c.
24. Engineers, selectmen to appoint, &c.
25. organization of.


may give orders to enginemen and others, &c.

R. S. 18, § 6.

to have powers of firewards; to appoint
enginemen, &c.
27. Organization of enginemen, &c., their by-
laws, &c.

28. Privileges and duties of engineers, &c.
29. Engineers to have care of engines, and
other fire apparatus.


may make rules, as to carrying fire, light-
ed matches, &c., in streets, &c.
31. Other general powers, as to preventing,
&c., fires.

82. Future acts establishing fire departments,


36. Who to vote at such meetings; clerk to be chosen; his duties.


33. Fire departments in villages and districts.
34. proceedings before establishment of.
35. Selectmen, or justice of the peace, may call
meeting of district, upon request of seven

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SECTION 1. The inhabitants of each town at their annual meeting, be chosen, &c. and the city council of each city, may elect such number of suitable

Firewards, to

R. S. 18, § 1.


49. Fire clubs not to be established, unless, &c.

50. Penalty for joining without permission.
51. Two preceding sections to be in force only,

Firewards shall

SECT. 3. When a fire breaks out in any place, the firewards shall attend at fires. immediately repair thereto, and shall carry a suitable staff or badge of

R. S. 3.

5 Cush. 269.

persons to be firewards therein as they deem necessary.

SECT. 2. Each person elected shall forthwith have notice thereof, and within three days after such notice shall enter his acceptance or refusal of the office with the town clerk; whoever after such notice neglects so to enter his acceptance or refusal shall, unless excused by the city or town, forfeit ten dollars, and another may be elected in his place.

their office.


to be
pulled down,

SECT. 4. The firewards or any three of them present at a place in &c., may order immediate danger from a fire and where no firewards are appointed, the selectmen or mayor and aldermen present, or in their absence two or more of the civil officers present, or in their absence two or more of the chief military officers of the place present, may direct any house or building to be pulled down or demolished when they judge the same to be necessary in order to prevent the spreading of the fire.

R. S. 18, § 4.

Owners to be

SECT. 5. If such pulling down or demolishing of a house or building indemnified, ex- is the means of stopping the fire, or if the fire stops before it comes to

the same, the owner shall be entitled to recover a reasonable compensation from the city or town; but when such building is that in which the fire first broke out, the owner shall receive no compensation.

SECT. 6. Such firewards or other officers may during the continuance of a fire require assistance for extinguishing the same and removing furniture, goods, or merchandise, from a building on fire or in danger thereof; and may appoint guards to secure the same. They may also require assistance for pulling down or demolishing any house or building when they judge it necessary; and may suppress all tumults and disorders at such fire.

SECT. 7. They may direct the stations and operations of the enginemen with their engines, and of all other persons for the purpose of

extinguishing the fire; and whoever refuses or neglects to obey such orders shall forfeit for each offence a sum not exceeding ten dollars.

ty, at a fire, to

SECT. 8. Whoever purloins, embezzles, conveys away, or conceals, Embezzling, any furniture, goods or chattels, merchandise or effects, of persons whose &c., of properhouses or buildings are on fire or endangered thereby, and does not be deemed larwithin two days restore or give notice thereof to the owner if known, R. 18, § 8 or if unknown, to one of the firewards, mayor and aldermen, or selectmen, of the place, shall be deemed guilty of larceny.



SECT. 9. The mayor and aldermen or selectmen of places provided Selectmen, &c., with fire engines may appoint suitable persons for enginemen; who to appoint enshall continue in office during the pleasure of the authority appointing R. S. 18, § 9. them.


SECT. 10. Such engines shall be manned as follows: each common Number of enengine, or suction engine when used as a common engine only, with not ginemen to each exceeding thirty men; each suction engine, when used as such, with not R. S. 18, § 10. exceeding forty-five men: but this provision shall not affect the present right of any place to have a greater number of enginemen appointed than is herein prescribed.

R. S. 18, § 11.

SECT. 11. The mayor and aldermen or selectmen may select from the Axe-men, &c., enginemen any number for each engine, who shall under the direction to be appointed. of the firewards attend fires with axes, fire-hooks, fire-sails, and ladders, and do such further duty as the mayor and aldermen or selectmen shall from time to time prescribe; and they shall be entitled to all exemptions and privileges of other enginemen.


SECT. 12. Each company of enginemen so appointed shall meet Annual meetannually in May and choose a foreman, or director, and a clerk, and ing of engineestablish such rules and regulations not repugnant to the laws of the Rules may be commonwealth respecting their duty as enginemen, as shall be approved ties annexed. by the mayor and aldermen or selectmen; and they shall annex penal- R. S. 18, § 12. ties thereto not exceeding ten dollars, which may be recovered by the the clerk in an action of tort.

SECT. 13. Such companies shall meet together once a month, and Meetings of enoftener if necessary, for the purpose of examining the engine and its . s. 18, 13. gine appendages and seeing that they are in good repair and ready for use. They shall by night and day, under the direction of the firewards, use their best endeavors to extinguish any fire that may happen in their city or town or the vicinity thereof.

SECT. 14. When the proprietors of an engine apply to the mayor and aldermen or selectmen of a city or town in which the engine is owned, setting forth that they desire that the same should be employed for the benefit of such place, the mayor and aldermen or selectmen may appoint enginemen in the same manner, with the same privileges, and subject to the same regulations, as if the engine belonged to the place; and if the proprietors do not agree as to where the engine shall be kept, the mayor and aldermen or selectmen shall determine the same.

SECT. 16. Enginemen appointed under the two preceding sections shall, if such can be obtained, be persons living at or near the place

to appoint en

Selectmen, &c., ginemen to private engines.

R. S. 18, § 14.


R. S. 18, § 15.

SECT. 15. If the mayor and aldermen or selectmen upon such appli- If selectmen, cation refuse or delay for the space of fourteen days so to appoint en- & refin ginemen, the proprietors may apply therefor in writing to the county may appoint. commissioners, giving notice in writing to such mayor and aldermen or selectmen seven days at least before the sitting of the commissioners, that they may appear and show cause, if any they have, why such enginemen should not be appointed; and if sufficient cause is not shown by them the commissioners may appoint the number of enginemen prescribed in section ten.

Enginemen to live near engines.

. S. 18, § 16.

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where the engine is kept, and they shall enjoy all the privileges and exemptions of other enginemen.

Enginemen, if SECT. 17. If an engineman is negligent in his duties the mayor and negligent, may aldermen or selectmen shall discharge him and appoint another in his



R. S. 18, § 18.
R. S. 18, § 19.
1838, 71, § 2.
See § 21.

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SECT. 18. Persons appointed enginemen or members of the fire department in any place, and who have done duty as such for one year preceding the first day of May in any year, shall be entitled to receive from the treasurers of their respective towns a sum equal to the poll tax for state, county, and town taxes, (exclusive of highway taxes,) paid by them, or by their parents, masters, or guardians, and such further compensation as the town determines.

Fire departments may be organized, &c. 1839, 138, § 1. 1855, 128.

SECT. 19. The chief engineer or the officer who holds the first office in any fire department, and the foreman or director of each company in any place where no fire department is established by law, shall annually on or before the first day of May make out and certify to the assessors of their respective places a list of all persons in their department or companies who through the year preceding have performed all the duties therein required by law. The assessors shall within ten days thereafter examine such lists and certify to the treasurers of their respective places the amount to be paid to each person named therein. Such treasurers shall after deducting all taxes due from the persons so named pay the same to them, or if minors to their parents, masters, or guardians; and upon refusal of the treasurer to pay any sums so certified and returned, the persons entitled may severally recover the same from such places in an action of contract.

SECT. 20. If such chief engineer or other officer wilfully refuses to make such certificate, he shall forfeit for each person whose name ought to have been so certified, a sum not exceeding five dollars, to be recovered in an action of tort to his use, or on complaint to the use of the commonwealth; and if such engineer or other officer makes a false certificate in such case, he shall forfeit a sum not exceeding fifty nor less than twenty dollars, to be recovered in an action of tort to the use of the city or town, or on complaint to the use of the commonwealth.

SECT. 21. The provisions of the three preceding sections shall be in force only in those cities and towns which have adopted or may adopt the same at the annual meeting of the town or by the city council of the city. When such adoption shall be revoked by the town at an annual meeting, or by the city council of a city, said provisions shall cease to be in force therein.

SECT. 22. Whoever wantonly or maliciously injures a fire engine or the apparatus belonging thereto, shall be punished by fine not exceeding five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding two years, and be further ordered to recognize with sufficient surety or sureties for his good behavior during such term as the court shall order.


SECT. 23. The selectmen of any town may establish a fire department therein in the manner hereinafter provided, and such department and every other fire department, unless different provisions are specially made therefor, shall be organized in the manner, and the members thereof may exercise the powers and shall be subject to the liabilities, hereinafter mentioned.

Engineers, se

1839, 138, § 2.

SECT. 24. The selectmen of such town shall annually in April appoint lectmen to ap- for such department as many engineers not exceeding twelve as they may think expedient, for the term of one year from the first day of May following and until others are appointed in their stead; and the selectmen shall fill all vacancies.

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