“The fire codes are still outlandish”
So sayth Justin. And with that adjective, he understates the case.
In 2003, before (before) the new fire codes uselessly promulgated as a result of the Station Night Club fire went into effect, Rhode Island had the highest per capita expenditure on fire prevention. Imagine how much higher that number now is and how much more burdensome those regulations.
Conceptually, whether it’s a fire code or a building code, we can have no end of regulations and corresponding construction or retrofit requirements to make us so safe as to approach infinity. There is a point at which the resulting cost renders the buildings too expensive to buy or rent or, minimally, places a heavy, unwarranted burden on an economy.
In practical terms, our expensive fire codes and fire prevention infrastructure proved completely irrelevant to three hundred people in West Warwick. Mountains of expensive fire codes are useless if not enforced (and if an Attorney General then does all in his power to shield the fire official from the legal consequences of such a fatal dereliction of duty).
The new fire code, built on an already excessively burdensome fire prevention infrastructure, became yet another regulatory/fiscal cudgel with which the General Assembly pounded Rhode Island businesses. Inadvertantly and with all good intention, some might point out. Yes, but weren’t most of the laws and regulations – including tax laws – that have unnecessarily rendered Rhode Island all but unfit in which to operate a business pass innocently and with good intention? That in no way diminishes the considerable damage that they have wrought and continue to work on Rhode Island’s economy: insufficient numbers of desireable corporations, the attendant dearth of good paying jobs, first into a recession, high unemployment rate, nightmare flashbacks for the CEO of a large corporation, et cetera.