Businesses would have more time to appeal fire code violations under a bill heading through the South Carolina Legislature. It comes after an audit last year found the State Fire Marshal’s Office was “inconsistent” in how it enforced the code.
The Senate unanimously passed legislation last week that gives companies 30 days to appeal. Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) explains the current law only gives them 24 hours.
Any small businessman will know that’s almost impossible, for someone to walk in unannounced (and) write a citation and you only get 24 hours to appeal.
Senators crafted the bill after a testy December hearing, when many businesses complained about what they considered “absurd” rules. Sen. Glenn Reese (D-Spartanburg) had requested a Legislative Audit Council audit after some of his constituents complained.
Bryant said the problem was that fire marshals weren’t properly interpreting the law.
I think we found the legislation’s pretty clean. It’s just a misinterpretation. That’s where the problem was.
Governor Nikki Haley appointed a new fire marshal, Adolf Zubia, to replace former Marshal John Reich earlier this year. Zubia promised legislators the problems would not continue under his watch.
Code violations that present an “imminent danger” would still have to be fixed right away. An example of such a violation could be if a business kept a gas can next to a propane water heater.
The bill now heads to the House.