I-Team: Bill would limit fire inspections - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

I-Team: Bill would limit fire inspections

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PROVIDENCE -

Fire inspectors in each city and town in Rhode Island are tasked with checking local buildings, and possibly saving lives.

But just 10 years after The Station nightclub fire that killed 100 people, one state lawmaker says it's time to inspect buildings less and not more.

State Rep. Joseph Trillo: "Once a business comes up to fire code, they cannot be required to make structural changes for 10 years."
NBC 10's Katie Davis: "The bill doesn't say that right now."
Trillo: "The bill came in at the last minute. I had to put that in order to cover the timeframe."

Trillo said many small business owners have been hard hit by changes to the state fire code that followed The Station fire in 2003. Trillo's bill says once a business is in compliance, inspectors shouldn't return for 10 years.

"The fire department doesn't support anything. They want it as tough as they can have it. The problem is that they've hurt a lot of small businesses," he said.

Firefighters and fire marshals came to a hearing Thursday at the State House on the proposed legislation to speak out against the bill.

"My office as well as the majority of chiefs in Rhode Island are in opposition to this bill.  We think that the language as presently written is too wide-reaching," said Rhode Island State Fire Marshal Jack Chartier.

Local fire departments say they already work with business owners to make a long-term plan, so not all improvements have to be paid for at once. But they won't support cutting back on inspections.

"Say for instance that Rhode Island Hospital was completely in compliance today, and I believe it is. Then we couldn't go back there for 10 years. We don't think that's realistic," Chartier said.

Rhode Island's statewide fire code requires annual inspections of every school and nightclub, although Trillo's proposed bill is in conflict with the law.

Trillo said he'll rewrite the legislation to address those problems.

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  • Katie Davis

    Katie Davis

    Katie Davis is an I-Team reporter at NBC 10. She joined the team in January 2010 and is excited to live and work in New England.
    Katie Davis is an I-Team reporter at NBC 10. She joined the team in January 2010 and is excited to live and work in New England.
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    Parker Gavigan

    Parker Gavigan is an Associated Press award-winning journalist, and was named to the NBC 10 I-Team in January 2013. Parker digs deeper to get the answers that matter to you.
    Parker Gavigan is an Associated Press award-winning journalist, and was named to the NBC 10 I-Team in January 2013. Parker digs deeper to get the answers that matter to you.
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