WEST FELICIANA, LA (WAFB) - Fighting fires is just one obvious job of the fire department, fire prevention is another. But there is one new idea to make homes safer that is igniting controversy in West Feliciana.
A District Fire Chief in West Feliciana is proposing to change the way homes are built there, but critics say there is a big problem with what he wants to change.
James Woods, the District 1 Fire Chief will propose 13 new ordinances Wednesday, including one that will require structures or homes to have sprinkler systems if they are less than 40 feet apart from each other.
"We are hoping that these ordinances do improve life safety and the safety of our community; that it's going to reduce cost and it will also improve our ability to provide service to the community," said Wood.
Billy Ward is the President of the Louisiana Home Builder's Association. Not only doesn't he disagree with the sprinkler ordinance, he says it is illegal.
"The Legislature in 2010 enforced Act 685 which prohibits local jurisdictions of mandating sprinkler systems," saidWard.
The Act specifically reads: Further no municipality or parish shall adopt or enforce an ordinance or other regulation requiring a fire protection sprinkler system in one- or two-family dwellings.
Wood says his plan is all about safety, but knows it is something that is still up for discussion.
"We are definitely open to changing them amending them and making them more palatable to everyone," said Wood.
The public meeting to discuss the proposed ordinances is Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 6 p.m. at the West Feliciana District 1 Fire Station, which is located at 9892 West Feliciana Parkway.
Section 6.5-24 of Division 2, Article II Chapter 6.5 "Fire Prevention and Protection" (Fire prevention Bureau)
C. Investigations of origins and causes of fires and explosions
Whereas the Fire Protection District No. 1 of West Feliciana Parish holds the responsibility for providing fire protection within the fire protection district;
Whereas Louisiana revised statute 40:1563.1 authorizes the fire chief of each fire department to commission fire investigators and make arrest pursuant to state fire and arson statutes when authorized by the governing authority of a political subdivision:
Now therefore be it resolved by the West Feliciana Parish Police Jury that:
Pursuant to the authority of Louisiana Revised Statute 40:1563.1, the Fire Chief for Fire Protection District No. 1 is authorized to commission fire cause investigators in accordance with state laws and policies governing the commissioning of investigators. Investigators shall have the authority to investigate origin and cause of fires and explosions as well as individuals suspected of violating state arson statutes and other criminal laws pertaining to fire and explosions or explosive devices.
Furthermore, investigators shall have the authority to enforce all parish ordinances pertaining to life safety or fire protection in accordance with the prescribed manner and elements of law.
Investigators shall be vested with police powers and may perform investigations and general law enforcement functions as it relates to arson investigations within the jurisdiction of Fire Protection District No. 1 and in areas outside of the fire district when requested to do so by the executive of the fire or law enforcement agency having jurisdiction.
State Arson Statues:
Authority to make arrests and carry firearms; arson task force
A. The fire marshal, the first assistant fire marshal, each deputy fire marshal, certified local authorities, and state or municipal arson investigators, while engaged in the performance of their duties as such, shall have the authority to investigate and cause the arrest of individuals suspected of having violated the following criminal laws:
(1) R.S. 14:51, aggravated arson.
(2) R.S. 14:52, simple arson.
(3) R.S. 14:53, arson with intent to defraud.
(4) R.S. 14:54, placing combustible material.
(5) R.S. 14:54.1, communicating false information of planned arson.
(6) R.S. 14:54.2, manufacture and possession of delayed action incendiary devices.
(7) R.S. 14:54.3, manufacture and possession of a bomb.
(8) R.S. 14:54.5, fake explosive devices.
(9) R.S. 14:59 (A)(2), criminal mischief relating to the giving of any false alarm of fire.
(10) R.S. 14:204, fire-raising on lands of another by criminal negligence.
(11) R.S. 14:205, fire-raising on lands of another with malice.
(12) R.S. 14:206, fire prevention interference.
(13) R.S. 14:327, obstructing a fireman.
(14) R.S. 22:1924, insurance fraud.
(15) R.S. 22:1925, insurance fraud.
(16) R.S. 14.51.1, injury by arson.
(17) Any other criminal laws making unlawful an attempt or conspiracy to commit the foregoing offenses.
B. The officials enumerated in this Section shall also have the power to seize contraband subject to forfeiture as described in R.S. 14:54.4, in accordance with the procedure established in said provision.
D. The governing authority of a political subdivision may authorize the chief of each fire protection district, each fire department, and each volunteer fire department which is within that political subdivision to issue a commission to any local arson investigator allowing him to carry and use firearms and to arrest individuals suspected of violating crimes enumerated in this Section.
6.5-25 Mandatory Reporting Requirements
A. It shall be a misdemeanor for an owner, occupant, employee or other person in the custody of movable or immovable property that discovers and fails to report a fire or previous occurrence of a fire of said property. Specifically, fires involving property that is insured or property involved in industry and commerce.
a. Exceptions: small fires used for recreational purposes, fires to discard of leaves and other dried vegetation when set and attended by the owner, occupant, employee or other person in the custody of property and has the legal authority to set said fire.
B. It shall be unlawful for any commercial or industrial facility that operates a private fire suppression system to not report to the fire department within 12 hours of discovery that a private fire suppression system is out of service for any reason.
a. Operators of private fire suppression systems shall give reasonable notice to the fire department in the event of a planned outage or removal from service.
C. No person shall disturb the scene of a fire unless the disturbance is necessary to protect life or other property until the fire department releases the scene.
D. Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than two hundred dollars $200.00 nor more than five hundred dollars $500.00 or imprisoned for not more than thirty (30) days, or both for each occurrence.
6.5-26 Authorization to Enforce Open Burning Regulations:
A. The Fire Chief of each fire department/ fire district shall have the authority and personnel authorized by the fire chief may enforce provisions of section 11 of the Louisiana Environmental Control Commission Air Quality Regulations, as amended, burning regulations.
B. All prescribed burns, controlled burns and other fires that are intentionally set shall be reported to the fire department at least 2 hours prior to the start of the fire when done by a contractor and at the time of the fires start for residential or agricultural burning.
C. The following provisions of state law and regulation may be enforced by the fire department.
D. LAC 33:III.1109 (from the Louisiana Environmental Regulatory Code)
a. No person shall cause or allow the burning of waste or other combustible material on any property owned by him or under his control except as provided in Subsections C and D.
b. Subsection C –Statutory Exceptions
i. Parishes with Population of 300,000 or less Leaves, grass, twigs, branches, and vines by private property owner for non-commercial purposes. MUST attend at all times.
ii. Parishes with a population of 90,000 or less Trees, brush, grass, or other vegetable matter as long as it's not within the territorial limits of a city or town or adjacent to a city or town such that the air will be affected by smoke from the burning.
iii. Burning of Agricultural by-products in the fields.
iv. Controlled burning of cotton gin agricultural wastes in connection with cotton gin operations.
v. Controlled burning in connection with timber stand management.
vi. Controlled burning of pasture land or marshland in connection with trapping or livestock production.
c. Subsection D –Exceptions to Prohibition
i. There are Nine (9) Exceptions to Prohibition
ii. Outdoor burning in connection with the preparation of food.
iii. Campfires and fires used solely for recreational purposes or for ceremonial occasions.
iv. Outdoor burning in rural parks and recreation areas of trees, brush, grass, and other vegetable matter for game management purposes.
v. Small fires, by tradesmen and contractors, in such activities as street repair, installation or repair of sewer, water, electric, telephone mains, and services.
vi. Operation of contrivances using open flames such as welding torches, blow torches, portable heaters, and other flame making devices.
vii. Outdoor burning of trees, brush, grass, and other vegetable matter for land clearing and right of way maintenance operations IF THE FOLLOWING conditions are met:
1. Winds away from town/city;
2. At least 1000 ft from dwelling not located on property.
3. Minimize dirt on the material being burned.
4. Heavy oils, items containing natural or synthetic rubber, or any non-plant material which produce unreasonable amounts of smoke are prohibited.
5. Burning must be conducted between 8 am and 5 pm.
6. Must be controlled as to not cause a traffic hazard.
d. Training of fire fighters or testing firefighting equipment as long as the following are met;
i. Duration of burning held to minimum required for such purposes.
ii. Burning conducted between 8 am and 5 pm.
1. This provision shall not apply to structures specifically designed for the purpose of training firefighters.
iii. Must be controlled as to not cause a traffic hazard.
e. Outdoor burning of waste hydrocarbon products at the site of origin when it is not practicable to transport the waste products for sale or reclamation under the following conditions:
i. Must not occur in a town/city or in such proximity to affect the air
ii. May only occur between 8 am and 5 pm
f. Special situations approvable by exemption by LDEQ prior to the initiation of burning:
g. Explosives, pyrophoric, or any other materials where there is no practicable or safe method of disposal;
h. Experimental burning for research or data gathering;
i. Nonrecurring unusual circumstances or any condition not covered above.
E. Exclusion from Application of 1109
a. If operating in compliance with a Variance issued by LDEQ.
F. Whoever violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than two hundred dollars $200.00 nor more than five hundred dollars $500.00 or imprisoned for not more than thirty (30) days, or both
a. The fire department shall have the authority to refer any instance to the state for enforcement.
6.5-27 Authorization to Establish and Maintain a Burn Ban:
A. The Fire Chief of each fire department/ fire district shall have the authority to establish a burn ban inside the jurisdictional boundaries of each when the fire chief deems that outdoor burning poses an elevated risk to the public due to weather conditions or other special circumstances.
B. Whoever violates a burn ban established under this section or when provided as a part of a Department of Agriculture or Fire Marshal Office ban, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than two hundred dollars $200.00 nor more than five hundred dollars $500.00 or imprisoned for not more than thirty (30) days, or both
6.5-28 Requirement for Radio Repeating Systems
A. Any builder of any industrial, commercial or multifamily residential building which is greater than 10,000 square feet or is comprised of materials that would interfere or prohibit radio communications from law enforcement, fire personnel or emergency medical personnel is required to install an in-building booster system or repeater system that will facilitate the radio systems of the local emergency response personnel that would be expected to respond in an emergency.
B. The responsibility for maintaining the system shall be with the building owner.
C. Failure to comply with this provision will constitute a building to be deemed unsafe and prohibited from allowing occupancy.
6.5-29 Obstructing Fire and Emergency Services Operations
A. It shall be unlawful to interfere with the operations of any emergency vehicle (fire truck, engine or equipment, ambulance, law enforcement vehicle, authorized private response vehicle) during an emergency or in the course of official duties by parking, blocking, accessing or otherwise tampering with the operation of the emergency vehicle.
B. It shall be unlawful for any driver to cross any fire hose unless directed to do so by a member of the fire department as it may cause damage or other perils which could endanger life or property.
C. Whoever violates either of these provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than two hundred dollars $200.00 nor more than five hundred dollars $500.00 or imprisoned for not more than thirty (30) days, or both.
6.5-30 Authorization to Establish Fire Lanes
A. The chief of the fire department/ fire district may order the establishment of a fire lane to prohibit the parking or blocking of egress and access routes or other areas pertinent to fire protection and or life safety such as fire hydrants, fire department connections, escape routes or other facilities that would hinder the fire department or the occupants in an emergency. The exclusionary zones shall be marked with red paint or other marking substance that is both conspicuous and approved by the fire department and be not more than 40 feet or 25% of the length of the building whichever is larger.
B. Once the fire lanes are established, the responsibility to maintain the fire lanes clear from obstruction shall be the owner of the building. Failure to keep fire lanes clear shall constitute a fine of not less than $200 dollars and not more than $500 dollars after the second violation in 90 days.
6.5-31 Ensuring Adequate Water Supply for Fire Suppression
A. West Feliciana Parish adopts chapter 8 of NFPA 1141 Standard for Fire Protection Infrastructure for Land developments in wild land, rural and suburban areas and all of NFPA 1142 Standard on Water Supplies for Suburban and Rural Firefighting as revised as the basis for all new development.
a. Prior to the construction of an commercial structure, planned development, industrial site or other development, the builders/ developers shall comply with the requirements of NFPA 1141 and 1142 in addition to the below requirements.
i. The Fire Department having jurisdiction must approve water system design and layout; this is to include hydrant placement and spacing.
ii. Design of systems shall be specific to the development and may not take credit for other existing hydrants or water systems unless approved by Fire Department.
iii. Developer shall install appropriate size water mains in accordance with Fire Department and/or Parish requirements, whichever is more stringent and regardless of current water system capability.
b. Parish Planning and Zoning may allow variances based on location, needs and alternative water supplies if approved by the Fire Chief of the Fire Protection District.
B. Any industrial, commercial or large residential structure except single family dwellings over 2,250 square ft occupied after one year from the date this ordinance is adopted that is more than 400 feet from the public roadway shall meet one of the following standards:
a. Have a sufficient number of hydrants and accompanying water main sizes installed within 300 feet of structure. Water mains must be capable of supplying rated fire flow for the planned structure.
b. Have 365 days a year static water supply capable of supplying the fire department with the required gallons a minute for two hours. Static water supply draft location shall be within 500 feet of the structure and must be approved by the fire department.
c. Draft sites must have all weather access. (Static water supply: Pond, swimming pool, lake, cistern, etc)
C. Parish Planning and Zoning may allow variances for single family residential or agricultural/non-commercial properties based on the following factors if approved by the Fire Chief of the Fire Protection District:
a. Properties with structures that are serviced by a driveway capable of two way traffic for fire apparatus are not require to conform to this requirement when the fire flow is less than 1000 GPM.
i. Occupancy classification, location, usage, available water supply and other factors influencing fire protection.
6.5-32 Fire Suppression Systems:
A. Any structure occupied after one year from the date of adoption of this ordinance is required to install and maintain an Automatic Fire Suppression Sprinkler System with the exception of those listed below. All other existing structures that have a change in occupancy classification with fire flows greater than 750 gallons per minute (GPM) are required to install an Automatic Fire Suppression Sprinkler System. All sprinkler system must meet requirements as set forth by Property Insurance Association of Louisiana (or seceding agency) for a sprinkler protected building before occupancy may be granted. The fire flow shall be calculated per the PIAL rating schedule. The Fire Department may grant a waiver or variance on structures based on occupancy classification, location, usage, available water supply and other factors influencing fire protection.
i. Single family residential structures that are forty (40) feet or greater from another structure that is intended for human occupancy.
ii. Agricultural buildings.
iii. Non-commercial storage buildings.
iv. Detached garages or carports.
v. Other residential auxiliary buildings.
B. Residential Structures built closer than 40 feet:
a. All structures meant for human occupancy build closer than forty (40) feet shall be required to install sprinklers in accordance with the PIAL requirements for a sprinklered building. Commercial structures shall comply with the provisions set forth in the Fire Suppression System requirements.
6.5-33 Public Safety Infrastructure:
A. All new developments (example: residential subdivisions, commercial developments or manufacturing complexes) must include land for public safety infrastructure such as fire stations, emergency medical services, law enforcement, and other public safety facilities in locations that are both reasonable for public safety use and economical for developers.
B. This requirement is to satisfy distribution and coverage requirements as established by the Property Insurance Association of Louisiana. Land shall be offered to the authority having jurisdiction for the appraised value of the land or less. The developer shall work with the public safety agencies to ensure that fire suppression and life safety needs are met.
6.5-34: Fire Prevention Code and Enforcement
Whereas the Fire Protection District No. 1 of West Feliciana Parish holds the responsibility for providing fire protection within the fire protection district;
Whereas Louisiana revised statute 40:1563 authorizes the fire chief of each fire department to conduct fire prevention inspections and enforce regulations pursuant to Louisiana State Uniform Fire Prevention Code and accompanying statutes when authorized by the governing authority of a political subdivision and the Louisiana State Fire Marshal:
Now therefore be it resolved by the West Feliciana Parish Police Jury that:
Pursuant to the authority of Louisiana Revised Statute 40:1563, the Fire Chief for Fire Protection District No. 1 is authorized to commission fire prevention inspectors and direct them to conduct fire prevention inspections with enforcement authorities as prescribed and in accordance with state laws and State Fire Marshal policies governing fire prevention inspections.
A. The Parish of West Feliciana directs the fire chief of Fire Protection District No. 1 of West Feliciana Parish to enforce the Louisiana State Uniform Fire Prevention Code as authorized by the Louisianan State Fire Marshal.
B. Furthermore the fire chief shall have the authorities allowed and set forth in Louisiana Revised Statute, 40:1563 et seq "Responsibilities of the Fire Marshal and Local Governing Authority", 40:1575 "Orders for Repair or Removal of Dangerous Conditions", 40:1578.6 "Life Safety Code; Existing Hazardous Buildings" and Title 55: Public Safety-Part V. Fire Protection as revised.
C. The Louisiana State Uniform Fire Prevention Code shall be enforced by the chief and other officers and personnel designated by the fire chief as approved by the Louisiana State Fire Marshal. These personnel will be referred to as Fire Prevention Inspectors in the course of their inspection duties and may enforce the regulations of the Standard Fire Prevention Code in accordance with appropriate laws and rules as set forth by the Office of State Fire Marshal.
6.5-35 Designation as Hazardous Materials Response Agency
A. The Governing Authority of West Feliciana Parish designates Fire Protection District No. 1 of West Feliciana Parish as the Parish's Primary Hazardous Material Response Agency. Fire Protection District No. 1 is directed to coordinate with local, state and federal response agencies in the event of a Hazardous Materials release.
B. For the purposes of this law a hazardous material is means any substance deemed a hazardous material or a hazardous substance and included on a list adopted by rule by the deputy secretary of Transportation to include those materials deemed hazardous under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation Liability Act (CERCLA), the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA, Title III U.S.C.), and certain substances included in the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations as found in 49 CFR Part 172.101. Hazardous material also means any substance designated by the deputy secretary by rule on recommendation of the commission which meets criteria established for adding other materials to the list. This term shall mean and include hazardous substances.
C. The Fire Protection District shall manage emergencies with the purpose of protecting life and property until property relieved by an appropriate state or federal agency. This law in no way shall constrict another local agency or utility provider from carrying out required duties and responsibilities.
D. Fire Protection District No. 1 shall comply to the best of its abilities with the needs and requests of law enforcement when managing a hazardous materials incident that is a part of or the direct result of a criminal act.
E. This designation shall comply serve as designation in accordance with Louisiana Revised Statute 30:2375; Access to facilities for emergency response as a part of the Louisianan Hazardous Materials Development, Preparedness and Response Act.
F. Any person or entity found interfering with Fire Protection District No. 1 or its partner agencies shall be guilty of WFP Ordinance 6.5-29 Obstructing Fire and Emergency Services Operations