What is the relationship between a relief association and the city or town fire department?

City and town fire departments are departments of the city or town, just like the public works or parks and recreation departments are departments of the city or town. Relief associations are affiliated with a city or town fire department, but are separate entities from the fire department.

Each relief association is governed by a board of trustees, which includes three municipal representatives. Cities and towns may be required to approve a relief association’s pension benefit level, and also may be required to make contributions to fund relief association pension benefits.