FORM A FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
A Missouri fire protection district is a political subdivision of the state. That means it is a kind of government. It is also a “municipal corporation” meaning that it acts a lot like any other corporation.
A fire protection district is a “creature” of the state and is governed exclusively by-laws passed by the Missouri General Assembly. The by-laws are found in chapter 321 of the state statutes. You need to keep track of the changes in chapter 321 to make certain that you keep up with the current version of the law.
Because a fire protection district is a mixture of politics and law, and functions both as a government and as a corporation, the following resources will discuss a lot of things that are opinion, have to do with political issues and are open to challenge or interpretation by almost anyone. Other parts of this paper are based upon the law and what absolutely must be done. You are advised to read this entire paper through before taking the first steps to start a fire protection district. Where you disagree with some of the recommendations contained here, you should first make certain that the state statute does not require what we propose. If you choose to disregard some of this advice, you should obtain counsel from your own attorney or (in the case of political suggestions) from trusted or knowledgeable people in your area who may assist you with the political decisions that must be made.
It is suggested that you early-on contact the county clerk in your county and ask for advice from that individual regarding political matters (particularly regarding the conduct of an election) and that you seek a local attorney to represent you in court. Certain formalities require judge approval, and it is best that you involve an attorney early in the process. We strongly advise that these matters should be reviewed with local counsel before proceeding.
You may wish to consult (particularly in a small county) with the prosecuting attorney. Those prosecuting attorneys who serve in a part-time position may also be willing to represent the fire protection district. You should be aware that this is an extra service that the prosecuting attorney might perform and is not part of his duties as an elected official. You should be prepared to compensate the prosecuting attorney or any other attorney you select for services rendered.
If you are planning to hire an attorney to represent you in the formation of a fire protection district you should have a clear understanding as to the fees and expenses. You will be expected to pay the court costs for filing a petition with the circuit court to form the district, and you will probably be expected to pay attorney’s fees. Where these funds will come from ought to be an early question that you address. If you plan to pay for these things out of anticipated tax revenues, you should let the attorney know that he will be paid only if the entire transaction is successful. If a fire protection association is going got put up these monies in advance with an expectation of repayment out of tax funds, then that also should be made clear to everyone. If you are advancing the money out of your own pocket (or if you have taken a collection from other interested people) you need to disclose fully to the attorney the limits on what you can not pay and what risks of non-payment the attorney must take. Frank and open discussion of these matters at the very beginning can save a lot of problems later on.