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Texas Department of Insurance
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28 TAC §34.303

1. INTRODUCTION. The Commissioner of Insurance adopts an amendment to §34.303 concerning standards for state fire marshal inspections. The amended section is adopted with changes to the proposed text as published in the April 7, 2006 issue of the Texas Register (31 TexReg 3005).

2. REASONED JUSTIFICATION. The amended section 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. 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. 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.

3. HOW THE SECTIONS WILL FUNCTION. The section adopts by reference the most recent version of the National Fire Protection Association's Life Safety Code with the exception of the new Chapter 43 regarding the adaptive reuse of existing buildings. Previous editions of the Code required compliance with provisions for new construction and will remain effective in lieu of the Chapter 43 provisions.

4. SUMMARY OF COMMENTS AND AGENCY'S RESPONSE TO COMMENTS. In response to a written comment and after further internal analysis by staff, the Department is adopting this section with some changes which eliminate adoption of the new Chapter 43 dealing with existing buildings undergoing repairs, renovation, addition, reconstruction, or a change of use or occupancy classification. The comment noted that the adoption of Chapter 43 in the proposed 2006 Life Safety Code would pose a burden on building owners and designers as well as code enforcement authorities by introducing a new complex process, unfamiliar to all, which would result in added expenses and delays. The Department agrees that the new Chapter 43 appearing in the 2006 Life Safety Code would have introduced a confusing and exhaustive analytical process prior to any determination of the fire safety requirements and ultimately lead to uneven application and enforcement. The National Fire Protection Association has already proposed emergency tentative interim amendments to Chapter 43 which are subject to revision and clarification. Previous editions of the Code and the currently adopted provisions appearing in Sections 4.6.7 (Additions) and 4.6.8 (Modernization and Renovation) of the 2003 Life Safety Code, regarding modifications to existing buildings, have proven to be effective and efficient, essentially requiring modification to existing building to be compliance with provisions for new construction. The Department ultimately believes that by keeping the existing processes and standards in place, the fire protection industry and the public receive the benefits of sound fire safety policy and avoid the complicated processes contemplated by the Chapter 43 provisions.

5. Names of Those COMMENTING FOR AND AGAINST THE SECTIONS. The University of Texas at Austin Fire Marshal filed the only written comment on the proposed rules as published and indicated their objection to the adoption of Chapter 43.

6. STATUTORY AUTHORITY. The amended section is adopted pursuant to the Government Code §417.008 and the Insurance Code §36.001. Government Code §417.008 allows 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 this section regarding 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.

7. TEXT.

§34.303. Adopted Standards. The Commissioner adopts by reference: NFPA Life Safety Code 101-2006, except for Chapter 43, and NFPA 101-203, Sections 4.6.7 (Additions) and 4.6.8 (Modernization and Renovation). These copyrighted standards and recommendations are adopted, 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.

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