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You are here: Home . rules . 2006 . 0427-059

Subchapter C. STANDARDS FOR STATE FIRE MARSHAL INSPECTIONS

28 TAC §34.303

1. INTRODUCTION. The Texas Department of Insurance proposes an amendment to §34.303 concerning standards for state fire marshal inspections. The proposed amendment is necessary to update the currently adopted Life Safety Code, which is used by the state fire marshal as standards for inspection of buildings and premises pursuant to Government Code §417.008. Section 34.303, which adopts by reference certain standards and recommendations of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is amended to update the currently adopted 2003 Life Safety Code to the 2006 version. The adoption of the most recent Life Safety Code is necessary because, as the technology for fire protection and prevention develops, the minimum standards of inspection also change. The NFPA is a nationally recognized standards-making association that classifies the most recent Life Safety Code as the minimum standards for fire protection and prevention, and as such, these standards also constitute the minimum standards for inspection for potential fire dangers. This results in better protection of the public from fire by the application of the most recent standards and recommendations for inspection. Additionally, other units of government in Texas are adopting these standards, and uniformity of standards enables both the fire protection industry and the public to know what standards are applicable in all jurisdictions. The NFPA adopted changes to the 2003 standards to clarify existing requirements, eliminate redundant language, and restructure the document for ease in use. A new Chapter 43 has been added to promote the rehabilitation of existing buildings without sacrificing needed life safety. Previous editions of the Life Safety Code required compliance with provisions for new construction. New Chapter 43 in the 2006 Life Safety Code introduces specific requirements for repairs, renovations, additions, reconstruction, historic buildings and changes of use or occupancy classification. Other refinements affect alcohol-based hand-rub solution dispensers in corridors of health care occupancies to fight infection. Additional requirements for nightclubs and crowd managers in assembly occupancies have been added. The Government Code §417.008(e) provides that the standards adopted by the Commissioner by rule do not apply in a geographic area under the jurisdiction of a local government that has adopted fire protection ordinances that apply in the geographic area.

2. FISCAL NOTE. Paul Maldonado, State Fire Marshal, has determined that for each year of the first five years that the proposal will be in effect, there will be no fiscal implications for state or local government as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed amendment. Mr. Maldonado has also determined that there will be no adverse effect on local employment or the local economy.

3. PUBLIC BENEFIT/COST NOTE. Mr. Maldonado also has determined that for each year of the first five years the proposed amendment is in effect, the anticipated public benefit from enforcing and administering the amendment is the employment of the most current nationally recognized standards for inspection of buildings and premises in the state in order to examine whether conditions exist that are dangerous or are liable to cause or promote fire or create danger for fire fighters, occupants, or other buildings or structures. This means that inspections conducted by the State Fire Marshal in accordance with these most recent nationally recognized standards for detection of potential fire dangers will result in individual citizens, fire fighters, and other buildings and structures being better protected. Any costs that result from compliance with the updated standards is the result of the legislative enactment of Government Code §417.008 which imposes responsibility upon the State Fire Marshal to enter and inspect buildings and premises in the state in order to examine whether conditions exist that are dangerous or are liable to cause or promote fire or create danger for fire fighters, occupants, or other buildings or structures. In order to properly protect life and property, it is necessary that the latest current nationally recognized standards for inspection of buildings and premises be utilized. This is consistent with §417.008(e) which authorizes the adoption of "any appropriate standard developed by a nationally recognized standards-making association. . . ." but also provides that the adopted standards do not apply in a geographic area under the jurisdiction of a local government that has adopted fire protection ordinances that apply in the geographic area. Total costs for compliance with the updated standards will vary depending on many factors, including the size of the building, its intended use or occupancy, and, whether it is repair, remodel, or new building of structure. There will also be nominal costs to persons and entities required to purchase the updated standards. The estimated cost to purchase the proposed updated Life Safety Code is approximately $60 and will be the same cost for all persons and entities. The cost to a person or entity qualifying as a small or micro-business under Government Code §2006.001 will be the same as the cost to the largest business because the cost is the same for all purchasers of the updated standards, regardless of the size of the business. Even if the proposed amendment would have an adverse effect on a person or entity qualifying as a small or micro-business, the Department has considered the purpose of the applicable statute, which is to protect the public from dangerous conditions that may cause or promote fire or create danger for fire fighters, occupants, or other buildings or structures, and has determined that it is neither legal nor feasible to waive the provisions of the proposed amendment for such persons or entities.

4. REQUEST FOR PUBLIC COMMENT. To be considered, written comments on the proposal must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. on May 8, 2006, to Gene C. Jarmon, General Counsel & Chief Clerk, Mail Code 113‑2A, Texas Department of Insurance, P.O. Box 149104, Austin, Texas 78714‑9104. An additional copy of the comments must be submitted simultaneously to Paul Maldonado, State Fire Marshal, Mail Code 108-FM, Texas Department of Insurance, P.O. Box 149221, Austin, Texas 78714‑9221. Any request for a public hearing should be submitted separately to the Office of the Chief Clerk.

5. STATUTORY AUTHORITY. The amendment is proposed pursuant to the Government Code §417.008 and Insurance Code §36.001. Government Code §417.008 authorizes the commissioner to adopt by rule any appropriate standard developed by a nationally recognized standards-making association under which the state fire marshal may enforce §417.008 which regulates right of entry and examination and correction of dangerous conditions. Insurance Code §36.001 provides that the Commissioner of Insurance may adopt any rules necessary and appropriate to implement the powers and duties of the Texas Department of Insurance and other laws of this state.

6. CROSS REFERENCE TO STATUTE. The following statute is affected by the proposed section: Government Code §417.008.

7. TEXT.

§34.303. Adopted Standards. The Commissioner adopts by reference the following copyrighted standards and recommendations, except to the extent they are in conflict with sections of this chapter or any Texas statutes or federal law. The standards are published by and are available from the National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, Massachusetts: NFPA 101 -2006 [2003], Life Safety Code and cited references.



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