Massachusetts lawmaker trying to close fire safety loophole in state buildings

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BOSTON (SHNS) – A Hyde Park lawmaker is trying to close a loophole that prevents fire departments across the state from enforcing fire codes in state buildings, saying the move would increase the safety of employees and visitors.

“This important legislation will not only protect our firefighters and first responders who go to these buildings to go to calls and fires and emergencies,” Rep. Rob Consalvo said at a Public Safety Committee Hearing Wednesday. “But also, as you can imagine, the hundreds of employees that work in these buildings and the hundreds of thousands of our constituents who actually visit these buildings every single day.”

The legislation (H 2428) would allow local fire departments to enforce state fire codes at all buildings owned by the commonwealth other than the State House.

Boston Fire Chief John Dempsey said “the beauty” of fire codes is that although a fire or emergency may occur, they allow for a high degree of survivability of those who are unfamiliar with a building’s surroundings. “These fire safety codes, life safety systems along with pre-fire planning allow the fire department to operate with a high level of confidence and safety,” he said. “People who work or visit in state owned buildings should expect that the life safety systems provided by the building and fire codes are in operable condition and up to the current code.” 

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