§ 2-13-1. Ratification of compact Text.
The governor having entered on behalf of this state into a compact, substantially in the following form, with one or more of the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont and with such other states of the United States or provinces of the Dominion of Canada as may have legally joined therein, the legislature hereby signifies its approval and ratification of the compact so entered into, as to any of such states or provinces that may have or may hereafter legally join in the compact:
The purpose of this compact is to promote effective prevention and control of forest fires in the northeastern region of the United States and adjacent areas in Canada by the development of integrated forest fire plans, by the maintenance of adequate forest fire fighting services by the member states, by providing for mutual aid in fighting forest fires among the states of the region and for procedures that will facilitate such aid, and by the establishment of a central agency to coordinate the services of member states and perform such common services as member states may deem desirable.
This agreement shall become operative immediately as to those states ratifying it whenever any two or more of the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have ratified it and the congress has given its consent. Any state not mentioned in this article which is contiguous with any member state may become a party to this compact. Subject to the consent of the congress of the United States, any province of the Dominion of Canada which is contiguous with any member state may become a party to this compact by taking such action as its laws and the laws of the Dominion of Canada may prescribe for ratification. In this event, the term "state" in this compact shall include within its meaning the term "province" and the procedures prescribed shall be applied in the instance of such provinces, in accordance with the forms and practices of the Canadian government.
Each state joining herein shall appoint three representatives to a commission hereby designated as the Northeastern forest fire protection commission. One shall be the state forester or officer holding an equivalent position in such state who is responsible for forest fire control. The second shall be a member of the legislature of such state designated by the commission or committee on interstate cooperation of such state, or if there be none, or if said commission on interstate cooperation cannot constitutionally designate the said member, such legislator shall be designated by the governor thereof; provided that if it is constitutionally impossible to appoint a legislator as a commissioner from such state, the second member shall be appointed by the governor of said state in his discretion. The third member shall be a person designated by the governor as the responsible representative of the governor. In the event that any province of the Dominion of Canada shall become a member of this commission, it shall designate three members who will approximate this pattern of representation to the extent possible under the law and practices of such province. This commission shall be a body corporate with the powers and duties set forth herein.
It shall be the duty of the commission to make inquiry and ascertain from time to time such methods, practices, circumstances and conditions as may be disclosed for bringing about the prevention and control of forest fires in the area comprising the member states, to coordinate the forest fire plans and the work of the appropriate agencies of the member states and to facilitate the rendering of aid by the member states to each other in fighting forest fires.
The commission shall formulate and, in accordance with need, from time to time, revise a regional forest fire plan for the entire region covered by the compact which shall serve as a common forest fire plan for that area.
The commission shall, more than one month prior to any regular meeting of the legislature in any signatory state, present to the governor and to the legislature of the state its recommendations relating to enactments to be made by the legislature of that state in furthering the interests and purposes of this compact.
The commission shall consult with and advise the appropriate administrative agencies of the states party hereto with regard to problems connected with the prevention and control of forest fires and recommend the adoption of such regulations as it deems advisable.
The commission shall have power to recommend to the signatory states any and all measures that will effectuate the prevention and control of forest fires.
Any two or more member states may designate the Northeastern forest fire protection commission as a joint agency to maintain such common services as those states deem desirable for the prevention and control of forest fires. Except in those cases where all member states join in such designation for common services, the representatives of any group of such designating states in the Northeastern forest fire protection commission shall constitute a separate section of such commission for the performance of the common service or services so designated provided that, if any additional expense is involved, the states so acting shall appropriate the necessary funds for this purpose. The creation of such a section as a joint agency shall not affect the privileges, powers, responsibilities or duties of the states participating therein as embodied in the other articles of this compact.
The commission may request the United States forest service to act as the primary research and co-ordinating agency of the Northeastern forest fire protection commission, in cooperation with the appropriate agencies in each state and the United States forest service may accept the initial responsibility in preparing and presenting to the commission its recommendations with respect to the regional fire plan. Representatives of the United States forest service may attend meetings of the commission and of groups of member states.
The commission shall annually elect from its members a chairperson and a vice-chairperson. The commission shall appoint such officers or employees as may be required to carry the provisions of this compact into effect, shall fix and determine their duties, qualifications and compensation, and may at its pleasure, remove or discharge any such officer or employee. The commission shall adopt rules and regulations for the conduct of its business. It may establish and maintain one or more offices for the transaction of its business and may meet at any time or place but must meet at least once a year.
A majority of the members of the commission representing a majority of the signatory states shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of its general business, but no action of the commission imposing any obligation on any signatory state shall be binding unless a majority of the members from such signatory state shall have voted in favor thereof. For the purpose of conducting its general business, voting shall be by state units.
The representatives of any two or more member states, upon notice to the chairperson as to the time and purpose of the meeting, may meet as a section for the discussion of problems common to those states.
Sections established by groups of member states shall have the same powers with respect to officers, employees and the maintenance of offices as are granted by this article to the commission. Sections may adopt such rules, regulations and procedures as may be necessary for the conduct of their business.
It shall be the duty of each member state for formulate and put in effect a forest fire plan for that state and to take such measures as may be recommended by the commission to integrate such forest fire plan with the regional forest fire plan.
Whenever the state forest fire control agency of a member state requests aid from the state forest fire control agency of any other member state in combatting, controlling or preventing forest fires, it shall be the duty of the state forest fire control agency of that state to render all possible aid to the requesting agency which is consonant with the maintenance of protection at home.
Each signatory state agrees to render aid to the forest service or other agencies of the government of the United States in combatting, controlling or preventing forest fires in areas under their jurisdiction located within the member state or a contiguous member state.
Whenever the forces of any member state are rendering outside aid pursuant to the request of another member state under this compact, the employees of such state shall, under the direction of the officers of the state to which they are rendering aid, have the same powers (except the power of arrest), duties, rights, privileges and immunities as comparable employees of the state to which they are rendering aid.
No member state or its officers or employees rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be liable on account of any act or omission on the part of such forces while so engaged, or on account of the maintenance or use of any equipment or supplies in connection therewith.
All liability that may arise either under the laws of the requesting state or under the laws of the aiding state or under the laws of a third state on account of or in connection with a request for aid, shall be assumed and borne by the requesting state.
Any member state rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact shall be reimbursed by the member state receiving such aid for any loss or damage to, or expense incurred in the operation of any equipment answering a request for aid, and for the cost of all materials, transportation, wages, salaries, and maintenance of employees and equipment incurred in connection with such request. Provided, that nothing herein contained shall prevent any assisting member state from assuming such loss, damage, expense or other cost or from loaning such equipment or from donating such services to the receiving member state without charge or cost.
Each member state shall provide for the payment of compensation and death benefits to injured employees and the representatives of deceased employees in case employees sustain injuries or are killed while rendering outside aid pursuant to this compact, in the same manner and on the same terms as if the injury or death were sustained within such state.
For the purposes of this compact the term employee shall include any volunteer or auxiliary legally included within the forest fire fighting forces of the aiding state under the laws thereof.
The commission shall formulate procedures for claims and reimbursement under the provisions of this article.
Aid by a member state to an area subject to federal jurisdiction beyond the borders of such state shall not be required under this compact unless substantially the same provisions of this article relative to powers, liabilities, losses and expenses in connection with such aid are embodied in federal laws.
When appropriations for the support of this commission or for the support of common services maintained by the commission or a section thereof under the provisions of article V are necessary, the commission or section thereof shall allocate the costs among the states affected with consideration of the amounts of forested land in those states that will receive protection from the service to be rendered and the extent of the forest fire problem involved in each state, and shall submit its recommendations accordingly to the legislatures of the affected states.
The commission shall submit to the governor of each state, at such time as he may request, a budget of its estimated expenditures for such period as may be required by the laws of such state for presentation to the legislature thereof.
The commission shall keep accurate books of account, showing in full its receipts and disbursements, and said books of account shall be open at any reasonable time to the inspection of such representatives of the respective signatory states as may be duly constituted for that purpose.
On or before the first day of December of each year, the commission shall submit to the respective governors of the signatory states a full and complete report of its activities for the preceding year.
The representatives from any member state may appoint and consult with an advisory committee composed of persons interested in forest fire protection.
The commission may appoint and consult with an advisory committee of representatives of all affected groups, private and governmental.
The commission may accept any and all donations, gifts and grants of money, equipment, supplies, materials and services from the federal or any local government, or any agency thereof and from any person, firm or corporation, for any of its purposes and functions under this compact, and may receive and utilize the same subject to the terms, conditions and regulations governing such donations, gifts and grants.
Nothing in this compact shall be construed to authorize or permit any member state to curtail or diminish its forest fire fighting forces, equipment, services or facilities, and it shall be the duty and responsibility of each member state to maintain adequate forest fire fighting forces and equipment to meet normal demands for forest fire protection within its borders.
Nothing in this compact shall be construed to limit or restrict the powers of any state ratifying the same to provide for the prevention, control and extinguishment of forest fires, or to prohibit the enactment or enforcement of state laws, rules or regulations intended to aid in such prevention, control and extinguishment in such state.
Nothing in this compact shall be construed to affect any existing or future cooperative relationship or arrangement between the United States forest service and a member state or states.
This compact shall continue in force and remain binding on each state ratifying it until the legislature or the governor of such state takes action to withdraw therefrom. Such action shall not be effective until six months after notice thereof has been sent by the chief executive of the state desiring to withdraw to the chief executives of all states then parties to the compact.
(P.L. 1950, ch. 2430, § 1; P.L. 1950, ch. 2440, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 2-13-1.)