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AGO 1954 No. 249 - April 28, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


A chief of the fire department of a third class city who does not devote his whole time to fire fighting, is not properly a civil service employee of the city and may therefore be removed by act of the mayor.

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                                                                   April 28, 1954

Honorable Cliff Yelle
State Auditor
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 249

Attention:  Mr. A. E. Hankins, Chief Examiner

Dear Sir:

            On April 15, 1954, you requested our opinion on whether the mayor of a certain third class city has the power to remove the chief of the fire department, or whether the chief of the fire department is a proper civil service employee of the city, and subject to removal only under the civil service requirements of chapter 41.08 RCW.

            In our opinion, the chief of the fire department in this particular city was never a proper civil service employee and is therefore subject to removal by act of the mayor.


            The legislature authorized civil service for fire departments as chapter 31, Laws of 1935, and codified as 9558-1 et seq., Rem. Rev. Stat. Supp., also codified as chapter 41.08 RCW.  The persons to be covered under this act, as defined by RCW 41.08.050, are as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "The classified civil service and provisions of this chapter shall include allfull paid employees of the fire department of each city coming within its purview, including the chief of the department.  * * *"  (Emphasis supplied)

            In the definition of the term "full paid fire department," RCW 41.08.220 provides:

            "'Full paid fire department' means that the officers and firemen employed are paid regularly by the city and devote their whole time to fire fighting.  * * *"

            The fire chief in question is being compensated at a fixed sum of $30.00 per month.  He has other income and earnings from private employment, and as the facts state, "does not devote his whole time to fire fighting."

            It is our opinion from reading these sections of the act quoted above, and applying them to the present party concerned, that the chief of the fire department was not one of that class of employee intended to be covered under chapter 41.08 RCW, nor in fact was he so included under the act.  The act was passed to cover "full paid employees," and the chief could not be considered as being such under the definition in the act.  He was not "blanketed in" under the provisions of RCW 41.08.060.

            Our conclusion is that the particular fire chief, within the facts given, was not included under civil service provided for in chapter 41.08 RCW.  Therefore, the procedure to be followed for his dismissal is indicated by RCW 35.24.020, which allows the mayor of the city to remove appointive officers.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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