PA 07-84—sHB 7115

Public Safety and Security Committee

Planning and Development Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE OFFICE OF THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL

SUMMARY: This act makes several unrelated changes affecting fire code enforcement.

As an alternative to annual inspections, the act allows the state fire marshal to adopt a schedule for inspecting certain buildings subject to the State Fire Safety Code less often if it is in the interest of public safety.

The act streamlines fire incident reporting procedures and expands the kind of fire-related incidents that local fire marshals must report to the state fire marshal.

It extends the deadline for adopting the State Fire Prevention Code from January 1, 2005 to October 1, 2008. (PA 04-59 required the state fire marshal to adopt this code to (1) enhance the enforcement capabilities of local fire marshals and (2) prevent fire and other related emergencies. )

It requires (1) at least one member of the Fire Marshal Training Council to participate in hearings to revoke the certificate of local fire marshals unable to prove that they completed required training and (2) the council to advise the state fire marshal and Codes and Standards Committee on decertification hearings.

It authorizes the state fire marshal and Codes and Standards Committee to issue emeritus certificates to certain retired fire code officials.

Finally, the act makes technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage for the training council requirements; October 1, 2007 for the other provisions.

BUILDING INSPECTION

Prior law required local fire marshals to inspect buildings (except one- and two-family buildings) within their jurisdiction regulated by the State Fire Safety Code (1) at least annually and (2) as often as necessary in the interest of public safety.

The act eliminates the latter provision and instead allows, as an alternative to the annual inspections, inspections based on a schedule the state fire marshal prescribes. It allows the state fire marshal to establish in the fire safety and fire prevention codes an inspection schedule for regulated buildings, based on building use, except for residential buildings designed to be occupied by three or more families. (By law, such residential buildings will continue to be subject to annual inspections. ) The schedule must allow for less-than-yearly inspections if in the interest of public safety.

In addition to the mandatory inspections for regulated buildings, prior law required local fire marshals to inspect other buildings or facilities within their jurisdictions on any “authentic” complaint that the building or facility posed a fire hazard. The act instead requires the state fire marshal, upon receiving any such authentic complaint, to conduct the inspections.

FIRE INCIDENT REPORTS

Prior law required the fire chief to report incidents of fire or explosion to the local fire marshal who reported them to the state fire marshal. It required the fire chief to make the report within five days, and the local fire marshal within 10 days, of the incident.

The act eliminates the two-step reporting process and reporting deadlines. It requires either the fire chief or local fire marshal to submit reports directly to the state fire marshal. In addition to fire or explosions, the act requires them to report other “fire emergencies” (which the act does not define).

The act also allows the fire chief or local fire marshal to submit reports of other significant fire department responses to fires or explosions. They may submit these reports monthly until December 31, 2007. Beginning January 1, 2008, they must submit them at least quarterly.

The act updates the law to reflect current technology and practice, allowing the officials to submit reports electronically instead of on magnetic tapes. It eliminates a requirement that local fire marshals certify and sign the reports.

EMERITUS CERTIFICATE

The act allows any appointed local fire marshal, deputy fire marshal, or other inspector or investigator to apply to the state fire marshal and the Codes and Standards Committee to retire his or her certificate and replace it with an emeritus certificate. It prohibits the retired official from describing himself or herself as a licensed or certified local fire official.

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