LOGAN, W.Va. — A trio of fire prevention ordinances were passed by Logan City Hall on May 9 and go into effect this week. The second reading of the ordinances was approved Tuesday night at City Hall.
“These matters are serious and these ordinances have been something that our Fire Chief Scotty Beckett and former mayor Tom Esposito have been working on for five or six months,” Mayor Serafino Nolletti said Tuesday night.
Chief Beckett noted that the ordinances were patterned on existing state fire codes as well as ordinances that had been passed in Morgantown and modified to address local situations. All three were approved upon the second reading.
The first, known as the Fire Prevention Code authorizes the city’s fire chief to enforce provisions in the code, such as designating fire marshals to be responsible for enforcement of the code, making sure there are no violations of the code itself, such as;
* Locked or blocked fire exits.
* Overcrowding in violation of posted occupancy.
* Blocking or obstructing fire lanes to emergency vehicles.
* Burning materials not authorized by the state.
* Having bonfires or other similar fires without prior approval of the fire department.
* Outdoor burning without a state forestry permit when required.
* Refusing to put out a fire when ordered to do so.
* Tampering with fire extinguishers or alarms.
* Illegal fires and arson.
* Failure to comply with those orders or obstructing a fire chief or fire marshal.
Penalties for violations of the ordinance include a fine of no less than $100 and no more than $1,000.
The second ordinance deals with the instillation of smoke detectors in all residential rental properties.
For some years the Logan Fire Department has collected money and donations which were used to purchase fire alarms or smoke detectors which are given free of charge to local school children and Chief Scott Beckett has promoted the use of the life saving devices for years.
This ordinance requires owners and managers of rental dwellings to install and maintain battery operated smoke detectors in their units. The alarms are required to be installed properly in each room used for sleeping purposes and on each story within a dwelling unit including basements or cellars. Failure to comply with the ordinance may result in a minimum penalty of $200 plus court costs or a maximum penalty of $500 plus court costs. Each unit found in violation of the ordinance counts as a separate violation, with another fine.
The third ordinance deals with people present at fires. For many years the Logan Fire Department and other fire departments across the county have often had to deal with unruly people at the scenes of fires. This can endanger the life of those persons as well as the lives of firefighters or victims and has been a very serious problem, noted Fire Chief Stephen M. Stone of the Main Island Creek Volunteer Fire Department. Sometimes the people causing problems are victims of the fire. Other times they are not-so-innocent bystanders who get in the way. First responders have been vexed by this problem for a long time, and the ordinance will address that at fires within city limits.
The new ordinance states that whoever is present at the scene of a fire shall be subject to orders of the city’s fire chief or any firefighter or law enforcement officer, in regards of putting out a fire or the protection or removal of property. A violator can be arrested for refusing to obey lawful orders and prosecuted in Logan Magistrate Court.
“These will go into effect right now, this week,” Mayor Nolletti said.
In other Logan Fire Department news, Chief Beckett said that work continues on tearing down and removing condemned buildings in Logan. Two owners of such structures have been summonsed to appear in court soon.
Beckett said the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant at the Fountain Place Plaza may be in for some upgrades soon, while recent remodeling at the Holiday Inn is almost complete.
The Logan Fire Department was kept busy in the past month with vehicular maintenance, training and 81 calls for assistance.
J.D. Charles is a freelance writer for Civitas Media and a retired reporter for The Logan Banner. He can be reached by calling 304-752-6950.