“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.

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George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Actually, there was some economic activity that resulted from the nut-bag over-regulation.
Those folks selling & installing all the new requirements.
Not suprisingly, many of those folks were firefighters who were also Electricians and Plumbers.
You can do that when you “work” 2 days on and have 5 days off to tend to your “side job”.

EMT
EMT
12 years ago

Once again George talks out of his rectum and expects to be taken seriously.
Fire alarms and sprinkler systems aren’t installed by even full-time plumbers and electricians, much less firefighters on “side jobs.” Fire alarm and sprinkler installation each require professional licensing (passing a test, etc) over and above normal plumbing and electrical licensing and are very labor-intensive, especially when retrofitted into existing buildings. It’s not something you can slap together in a couple of off days from another job.
There are many companies in the RI/MA area that are solely dedicated to installation and maintenance of these systems. It’s not a job for one guy who doesn’t even do it for a living.
And for the record, if you think it’s
“nut-bag over-regulation” to require alarms and sprinklers in buildings that hold hundreds upon hundreds of people, you’re just an idiot. Plain and simple. One sprinkler head above the stage at the Station would have ended that fire in seconds. Channel 10 played the video proving it.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

January 1, 2009 more than 50 plus (still searching for more bodies) people celebrating New Years died in a crowded Bangkok, Thailand night club fire that started when pyrotechnics were set off near the band stage.
Enough said.

bobc
bobc
12 years ago

“Bangkok’s nightspots have often been the subject of safety concerns although they have been incident-free for five years.”
Ken,
The Station Nightclub was not the subject of safety concerns prior to the fire. Had ANYONE done their job this tragedy could have been avoided. Now we have knee jerk legislation. Legislation that one of the owners of a fire and sprinkler alarm Co. called outrageous and he’s making a profit from it.
Now enough said

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

EMT,
I knew that comment would incite a reaction from you. 🙂
Had the lazy-ass, do nothing WW fire inspector simply done his job in the first place (e.g. enforcing the existing laws by telling them to take down the combustible foam), there would have been no fire that needed ending in 5 seconds. Plain and simple.

David
David
12 years ago

‘Mountains of expensive fire codes are useless if not enforced’ Monique says. I am sorry but I am having trouble understanding what side of this issue you are fighting. You, by the name of the post “ The fire codes are still outlandish”, seem to be in the camp that regulation is BAD, and by that you should be hoping for no enforcement of the expensive fire codes since you link enforcement to the result. And you go on to say that fire code enforcement is bad for business. But at the same time you are blaming government officials for lack of enforcement or worse!? I am for strict fire codes and enforcement. New building codes incorporating new fire coding have dramatically reduced death, injury, and property loss due to fire. -http://www.nfpa.org/ As far as Monique’s pronouncement on enforcement- West Warwick Fire at the time of the Station fire had an enforcement problem because of their deep understaffing. I know George Elbow does not want to hear this. West Warwick government simply by lack of manpower dropped the ball. I wonder also, with nothing to go on, if maybe WW officials , eager to support local businesses in their financially strapped town, allowed certain leeway with rules and codes. Justin complains about giving a Tiverton school exemption from the rules. Consider this. The Station nightclub fire patrons probably ( and with no good reason) thought they were in a safe environment. They had been to other concerts in places where the fire codes were strict. Places of assembly. Like theaters, churches, large nightclubs. People end up taking the built-in codes and requirements for granted. You go to a movie and you are in a safe place. You send your kids to the local public school and you expect a safe… Read more »

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

David,
The Station House fire had NOTHING to do with a lack of personel.
The Fire inspector had recently gone through the joint and failed to do the job he was paid to do.
They have plenty of time to wash their cars, attend to Union business, have ham & bean suppers, clog up traffic passing the boot around to collect money, but they didn’t have time to enforce the existing codes?
Stop making excuses for incompetance and laziness.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

Bobc,
I totally agree with you that if everyone had done their jobs the right way, used the proper materials, done inspections the proper way, followed existing codes without taking short cuts to save money the station night club fire could have been avoided. However that was not the case.
Pyrotechnics in a night club with a low ceiling covered with sound absorbing foam is a disaster waiting to happen as demonstrated by the current night club tragedy in Bangkok, Thailand where the death count has risen to 60 deaths and over 200 injured.
The State of RI and local cities and towns adopted the Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA) building code in its entirety and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes and standards, NFPA 70 National Electric code and Life Safety code 101. These codes have been standards for many many years and constantly being updated.
Where the problem lies is the grandfathering of existing buildings verses new construction and what constitutes alteration percentages that then require updating the existing building to new code requirements.
There was such an out cry after the station night club fire that the state fire marshal, local fire marshals, state building code commission and local building code officials reached consensus of rewording and interpretation of definitions related to the existing building grandfather clauses and because all local codes are based on state code the changes had to be added to the current laws which set up the state building code.
Other than the grandfather clause changes, the building, electrical and fire codes are the universally the same as every other state in the nation because they are national codes.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

Monique, You are the one that is misinformed! You say 50 state fire codes Every state writes is own fire code but all reference NFPA as the standard code. Just like the state of RI has a state fire code and each of the 39 cities and towns have their own written fire codes but they all reference NFPA Part time politicians and appointed fire marshals do not have neither the expertise nor the test facilities to write and validate fire, building and life safety codes Case in point, here are some passages from Connecticut, North Carolina and Louisiana state fire codes. Connecticut 29-292-8d Adopted Standard The following standard promulgated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is hereby adopted as part of Sections 29-292-1d to 29-292-9d, inclusive,: Code for Safety to Life from Fire in Buildings and Structures of the National Fire Protection Association, Inc., Standard 101 (NFPA 101®), 1997 edition first printing with errata No. 101-97-1 issued December 3, 1997, or second or later printing, with appendices, except as amended, altered, or deleted and by the addition of certain provisions as indicated in Section 29-292-9d. The standards promulgated by the NFPA are available from the National Fire Protection Association, Inc., Batterymarch Park, Quincy, Massachusetts 02269; telephone 1-800-344-3555 29-292-9d Connecticut Amendments The adopted National Fire Protection Association standard NFPA 101® is amended to meet the needs of the State of Connecticut is available from: Commission on Official Legal Publications Office of Distribution 111 Phoenix Avenue Enfield, CT 06082 Telephone: 1-860-741-3027 Request: 1999 Connecticut State Fire Safety Code State of North Carolina fire code 1.2 Reference NFPA Standards (NC Code may list prior but use of these is also permitted) NFPA 13-2002* Sprinkler Systems NFPA 14-2000 Standpipe and Hose Systems NFPA 15-2001 Water Spray Fixed Systems NFPA 16-2003 Foam-Water Sprinkler… Read more »

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

ADDENDUM:
Monique,
Like I said, NFPA codes and standards are national and used by all states in the USA.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) web site:
http://www.nfpa.org/index.asp
“Code use and development:
Currently used in every U.S. state and adopted statewide in 39 states, NFPA 101, Life Safety Code®, addresses minimum building design, construction, operation, and maintenance requirements necessary to protect building occupants from danger caused by fire, smoke, and toxic fumes. The Life Safety Code is truly the genesis of nearly all means-of-egress and life safety criteria codes used in the United States.
NFPA 101 is the most comprehensive code addressing safety to life from fire and similar emergencies in both new and existing buildings. The Life Safety Code® can be used in conjunction with a building code or alone in jurisdictions that do not have a building code in place.
NFPA 101 is recognized and utilized by numerous federal government agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”
This also means that if all US states have adopted or referencing NFPA 101 the life safety code references all the rest of the individual NFPA codes and standards (over 200).
You think RI is fire code is over the top, be happy you do not live in Massachusetts because the MA state fire marshal on his web page is referencing the benefits of having a private home fire sprinkler system installed (it’ll be only a matter of time).

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

ADDNDUM II:
Monique,
In reference to my statement every state is using the BOCA code, you are wrong again!
When I say every state is using the BOCA code they indeed are because it is incorporated into the new “International Building Code”.
The BOCA National Building Code (BOCA/NBC) by the Building Officials Code Administrators International (BOCA), Uniform Building Code (UBC) by the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO) and Standard Building Code (SBC) by the Southern Building Code Congress International (SBCCI) merged in 1997 forming the International Code Council (ICC).
By the year 2000, ICC had completed the International Codes series and ceased development of the 3 legacy codes which state had adopted in favor of their national successor The “International Building Code” which is a unified set of building codes for all US states to adopt under law as local building code.
The “International Building Code” rely heavily on referenced standards as published and promulgated by other standards organizations such as ASTM (ASTM International), ANSI (American National Standards Institute), and NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). The structural provisions rely heavily on referenced standards, especially the Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Structures published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE-7).
RI building and fire safety codes are no more stringent than any other state in the nation because all states are using the same unified “basic building and fire codes and standards* as of year 2001

EMT
EMT
12 years ago

You think RI is fire code is over the top, be happy you do not live in Massachusetts because the MA state fire marshal on his web page is referencing the benefits of having a private home fire sprinkler system installed (it’ll be only a matter of time).
I believe it’s Pheonix that requires homes that are two or more stories and all businesses to have sprinklers. Please note that as far as I can determine, there has never been a multiple fatality fire in a sprinklered building. The only individual fatalities have been when the victim was in close proximity to the fire and was incapacitated before the nearest sprinkler head could activate (ie smoker falls asleep and sets the bed on fire).

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

The RI Way –
We have a tragedy that, by any objective measure, could have been avoided had some lazy-ass public employee done the job he was paid to do. Answer to problem – create more regulations and spend more money.
Just like education. We have piss-poor results and the only answer the great unwashed can come up with is to throw more money at the problem.
We have the Daves of the world buying into the “we need more resources” crap.
Never is the answer “hold people accountable”.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

George Elbow,
It just occurred to me because of your comments and not going to bat for the State of RI and fire marshal but right after the station night club fire the ICC was releasing the new International Building Code (year 2000) which has tighter restrictions, definitions and interpretations than the legacy BOCA code.
International Building Code is a national unified building code which means all states, cities and towns that had adopted building codes and standards in to law (a standard or code is not enforceable until it is adopted into law hence individual governmental building and fire code laws) with proper permitting and inspection process would be in use with the new tighter standards.
RI was changing over anyways and wholly adopting the new International Building Code and updated NFPA fire codes and standards with new NFPA Life Safety Code 101 into law with or without the station night club fire because the BOCA code was merged into the new International Building Code.
So State of RI might be blamed for something that was out of its control but a normal update.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

The station nightclub fire occurred night of February 20, 2003.
From the State of RI web site (http://www:ri.gov )
“The State of Rhode Island Rehabilitation Building and Fire Code for Existing Buildings and Structures was adopted by the Fire Safety Code Board of Appeal & Review and the Building Standards Committee on January 22, 2002. The new Rehabilitation Code provides a single, uniform, statewide code with fire code and building code elements applicable to covering existing buildings and structures. It has an effective date of May 1, 2002.
The Board notes that the final draft of this Code was based primarily upon Chapter 54 of NFPA 5000.”
The above very new and strict State of Rhode Island Rehabilitation Building and Fire Code for Existing Buildings and Structures became law May 1, 2002 eight months before the station nightclub fire.
Also note Rehabilitation Code chapters reference an updated NFPA Life Safety Code 101.
The question is when did the Town of West Warwick adopt the code and start enforcement?

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Ken –
The WW fire inspector(less) didn’t need a revamp of the Firecodes to know that it was not only wrong, but just plain stupid, to allow flamable foam to remain on the walls of a nightclub.
Give it up.
Common sense and a little follow-through on the job one was paid to do likely would have made the difference.

Ken
Ken
12 years ago

George Elbow,
I am not supporting the WW fire inspector’s actions or going to bat for the State Fire Marshal and the State of RI.
What I am trying to point out is the update of the fire codes and the building codes in RI and all cities and towns was in part to a national 50 state movement and the ICC to work together under a unified set of new standard enforceable code the International Building Code (made up of the 3 common codes already in use) and the standard NFPA Life Safety Code 101 with updates starting in year 2000 with effective enforcement date in RI of May 1, 2002. With all 50 states using the same codes and standards RI code enforcement would be no more burdensome than any one of the other 49 states.
What I take issue with under the original post, is Monique’s statement that is totally misleading;
“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.”
However what most of us guys realize is that in a discussion of fact, you’ll never win with a women because they’ll continuously twist the facts around so as you say give it up!

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Ken,
The new standards to which you refer were in place prior to the tragic Station House fire.
Did the lazy WW fire inspector adhere to those standards. Answer NO.
Was he held accountable? Answer NO.
Did the State, subsequent to the Station House fire, go overboard on regulations. Answer YES.
In fact, over regulation is why they had specific hearings on the very subject.
There is really nothing to debate.
The story and the facts are straightforward:
Lazy public employee fails to do the job he is paid to do.
Equally lazy public employees refuse to hold their comrade accountable.
“Solution” to the problem is spend more money and add more expensive & burdensome regulations.
It’s the RI way.
End of story.
PS – your wife, if you have one, deserves an award for being married to a charmer like yourself.

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