Declaration of policy and purpose
The proper operation of the Department requires that Department directors, officers and members be impartial and responsible to their members and the public. They must not have interests that would be incompatible with the proper discharge of their responsibilities or tend to impair their independence of judgment or action in the performance of their official duties and responsibilities. Decisions and policies must be made in the proper channels of Department structure and free from undue influence. Positions with the Department must not be improperly used for personal gain. Directors, officers and members must strive to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. Each of these ideals is to ensure that the public has confidence in the integrity of this Department. The purpose of this Code of Ethics is to maintain and enhance a tradition of responsible and effective public service by setting forth standards of ethical conduct to guide members, directors and officers in the conduct of their responsibilities.
“Confidential Information” means any information, however transmitted or maintained, that is obtained, possessed or controlled by such Department member, director or officer by reason of his position with the Department, and by its nature is such that it is not known to the general public or is not a matter of public record.
A prohibited gift, as addressed by this policy, shall include a gift of more than $75.00 in value. Such a gift includes, but is not limited to, entertainment, food, beverage, travel and lodging to the extent that the gift value exceeds $75.00 for any one occasion and $150.00 total in any one year from the same person or business entity. A gift also includes a loan that is not commercially reasonable. Prohibited gifts do not include the following:
- A loan made on terms that is commercially reasonable and not more favorable than loans made in the ordinary course of business.
- Any gift regardless of value from a family member.
- Certificates, plaques or other ceremonial awards costing less than $75.00, except for any award given by a municipality or fire district, not-for profit corporation, another fire department or ambulance service or this Department for service as a Department member, director or officer.
- Honorary degrees.
- A meal, ticket, beverages, and lodging costing less than or equal to $75.00, but only if the total of all such gifts from a particular person or business does not exceed $150.00 in one year.
“Financial benefits” include promotions, commissions, rewards, raises and direct compensation. An “interest” shall include a direct or indirect, pecuniary or material benefit accruing to such person as the result of a contract with the Department.
Prohibited interests shall not include a contract or business advantage where no direct or indirect financial gain may be obtained, such as where a person is merely an employee that will not receive any financial benefit from the result of a decision of the Department.
“Officers” shall include executive/civil and line officers.
“Members” shall include all active members and other types of members, except for Honorary Members when such members have no vote or voice before the membership.
Principles of the Department
The principles which must guide the conduct of Department members, directors and officers include, but are not limited to, the following:
a. Department members, directors and officers shall endeavor to pursue a course which shall not raise suspicion among the public that they are likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of their trust as Department members, directors or officers;
b. No Department member, director or officer shall engage in, accept employment or render services when the employment or services: (1) are incompatible with the proper discharge of the official duties of such person; or (2) would tend to impair independence of judgment or action by such person in the performance of that person’s official duty.
c. Department members, directors and officers shall not disclose confidential information acquired in the course of their duties as a Department member, director or officer, nor use such information to further their own personal, family or present or known future business interests. This shall not prohibit revealing information known to the public at large;
d. Department members, directors and officers shall not use or attempt to use their positions or influence to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for themselves or others, either before the Department or otherwise;
e. Department members, directors and officers shall not engage in any transaction as a representative of the Department or municipality which contracts with the Department or with any business entity in which they have a direct or indirect financial interest that might reasonably tend to conflict with the proper discharge of their duties as a Department member, director or officer;
f. Department members, directors and officers shall not accept a gift, as defined above, from any person or business which has any pending business transactions or has an interest in a decision of the Department, including but not limited to decisions involving purchases, provisions of supplies, construction, hiring and legislation. Department members shall not accept privileges unavailable to the general public which are offered in order to gain favor from such individual regarding a decision of the Department.
g. Department members shall comply with the Department’s “Prohibition of Financial Interests” policy.
PROHIBITION OF FINANCIAL INTERESTS
Application of Policy
This policy shall regulate the conduct of members, directors and executive and officers. It shall apply to such person’s financial and business interests.
Persons regulated by this policy shall be deemed to have an interest in a contract or business of:
- his or her spouse, minor children and dependents;
- a firm, partnership or association of which such individual is a partner, member or employee;
- a corporation of which such individual is an officer, director or employee; and
- a corporation, any stock of which is owned or controlled directly or indirectly by such individual, except that a prohibited interest shall not include an investment interest in a business in which such person owns or controls less than five (5%) percent of the business or outstanding shares.
This policy shall not apply to a contract in which a member, director or officer has an interest if the total consideration payable under that contract, when added to the aggregate amount of all consideration payable under contracts in which such person had an interest during the fiscal year, does not exceed the sum of seven hundred fifty ($750.00) dollars.
No interested member, director or officer of the Department may:
- vote or speak on any matter in which he has any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect;
- vote to do business with any entity in which he has a prohibited interest;
- attempt to implement, prevent or change any legislation before the controlling municipality (including a fire district), which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties
- as a Department member, director or officer or would obtain a financial advantage or himself, family, or business; or
- represent a client before the Department or appear before the Department on behalf of a client;
- Express an opinion on any matter in which such person has a prohibited or conflict of interest.
Required conduct upon conflict arising
Prior to any vote, any duality of interest or possible conflict of interest on the part of any member, director or officer shall be disclosed to the other persons voting on the matter and shall be noted in the minutes.
Such interested person may be counted in determining the quorum for the meeting. The minutes of the meeting shall reflect that a disclosure was made, the abstention from voting and the quorum situation.
No member, director or executive or line officer having a duality of interest or conflict of interest on any matter shall vote or use his personal influence on the matter.
No conflict may be waived, even by vote of the members, directors or officers. A person accused of having an interest but disagreeing with the accusation may vote by secret ballot. Such person’s vote shall be sealed. Should the vote of such person affect the outcome of the matter, the Department may seek an opinion from the Comptroller, the Attorney General, the Department’s attorney or the Code of Ethics Committee, or from any other trusted and non-interested source as to whether a conflict exists.
Every new member of the Department or board of directors, or a new executive officer or line officer must be advised of this policy upon entering on the duties of his office. Forms acknowledging this policy must be executed by every new member, director or officer. This policy shall be reviewed at least annually with every member, director and officer.
Members, directors and officers shall be required to disclose annually, in writing, all financial interests in which they or family members may have before the Department, and any other information as required by the Department.
Members, directors and officers must exercise their duties and responsibilities in the public interest of the inhabitants of the municipality(s) served.
A sample (brief) form is as follows:
Date of acknowledgement:_______________ for the calendar year of _______.
Position held: [ ] member [ ] director [ ] executive officer [ ] line officer
List all potential businesses with which the Department presently does business in which any personal, family or business interest exists, as defined by the code of ethics policy.________________________________________________________
Do you now or in the next year expect to represent any person or business entity before the Department? __Yes ___No
Do you now or in the next year expect to solicit any business from the Department? ___yes ___ no. If yes, state in full such disclosure.
I acknowledge that I have read the Department’s conflict of interest policy and code of ethics and I agree to abide by such policies at all times. I have made a full disclosure of all interests and shall make an additional written disclosure should such a conflict arise.