A CONSTITUTION FOR A FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION (FPA)
The regulations set out a model constitution for you, which you can change according to your needs. Your FPA’s constitution should contain the following:
- Name and address of the FPA and a description of the area of the FPA that your members can understand. You can attach a map if you want to.
- A statement noting that the constitution is in accordance with Chapter 2 of the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, 1998 (No. 101 of 1998) and the regulations under it.
- The aim of the FPA, which is to predict, prevent, manage and extinguish veldfires in its area and its duties set out in section 5 of the Act.
- A section on membership, stating that any owner in the area of the FPA may at any time become a member, provided he or she undertakes to abide by this constitution and the rules of the FPA.
- The secretary of the FPA must keep a register of members. The constitution should describe what information the register should have.
- Voting rights: decide how voting will work. A suggestion is that at any meeting where voting is required, each member will have one vote.
Rights and duties
- Set out the rights and duties of members. For example, a member must pay any fees and charges set by the FPA, is entitled to enjoy all the benefits of membership and must comply with the FPA’s rules.
- Also explain when membership will be terminated, membership may be automatically terminated if a member does not pay the membership fees, charges or interest within a certain number of days after the annual general meeting.
- Remember that State and municipal owners cannot have their membership terminated.
- Membership fees, charges for services supplied by the FPA and interest on unpaid amounts will be determined by the FPA in terms of its rules.
- Explain how membership fees will be determined: fees could be calculated per hectare, for example. Or members requiring more services (for example, aerial support) could pay higher fees.
- The FPA may exempt any member from paying fees and charges, while still according him or her full membership status. The constitution should explain the process to be used to determine who should be exempted.
- The constitution should set out when membership fees are payable, and what the process is for increasing them.
Liability and powers
- Explain in your constitution that members are not personally liable for any claims against, debts owed by or omissions to carry out duties of the FPA.
- Take care to include all the powers you feel the FPA will need to carry out its business, for example, the FPA may acquire and dispose of any asset, hire employees, and take out loans. Set out the procedures the FPA must go through to do these things, for example, by calling a general meeting of members.
- Set out what positions there will be in the executive committee, for example, chairperson, treasurer and secretary.
- Set out the terms of office of each position.
- Specify how an office bearer can be removed from the executive committee. For instance, if an office bearer has been absent without an apology and a good reason at two consecutive meetings of the executive committee, he or she can be removed.
- The regulations set out that the financial year of the FPA runs from the date of its registration to 31 March of the following year, and then from 1 April every year to 31 March of the next year.
- The secretary is usually responsible for all the FPA’s financial business and must present an audited financial statement at the annual general meeting, but if the FPA has a treasurer, obviously this person will be responsible.
Annual and special general meetings
- Describe how the annual general meeting (AGM) will be called, what it will discuss and what constitutes a quorum. The annual report should be given at the AGM. The Department requires the annual report to be submitted to it by 30 June each year.
- Describe when a special general meeting may be convened, and what will constitute a quorum.
- How will disputes between members be resolved? An example is: if negotiations between members to resolve a dispute fail, any member of the FPA may approach the executive committee, which must appoint an arbitrator whose decision will be final.
Dissolution of the FPA
- How will the FPA be dissolved? For example, it could be dissolved by a general meeting called for that purpose or the Minister may deregister it in terms of section 8 of the Act.
- The constitution must specify how the general meeting would dissolve the FPA. For example, the resolution to dissolve the FPA must be passed by a two-thirds majority of members present, as long as enough members are present to constitute a quorum.
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