NOTE: If you want to send in a comment, please email comments to: Please copy the Association ( on the email so we can keep track of the communications.

Attention all Members:

The West Virginia State Fire Commission has filed two (2) Legislative Rules with the Secretary of State’s Office that will have a significant impact on the West Virginia Fire Service. One relates to training and operations of volunteer fire departments and the other is the State Fire Code. The Rules are currently our for public comment and there is a Public Hearing scheduled on the Fire Code Only on Friday, August 24th, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Parlor “D”, Charleston, WV. The training rules are limited to written comments only.

First, as you know, the WV SFA was successful in getting HB 4107 passed unanimously which addressed training and operations of volunteer fire departments. The proposed Legislative Rule is not too bad but does need a little “tweaking” to make sure that there isn’t an undue burden placed on our members. If you would please refer to the attached DRAFT Comment letter you will see that all we are asking for are a couple of minor changes that will allow existing equivalencies to continue to be recognized.

Secondly, there is the State Fire Code which is much more controversial. The Fire Commission, by verbal amendment offered at the very last minute, decided to strike through language in a section of the old code that, by reference, now forces the adoption of over ninety (90) NFPA Standards in their entirety and without exception or modification. Included in these Standards are approximately fifty-seven (57) NFPA Standards that directly relate to the operation of volunteer fire departments. This proposal is absolutely absurd, the state fire code was never intended to be used to regulate fire departments in any way. Since it’s inception, over thirty years ago, the fire code has always exempted the adoption of any standards applicable to the operation of local fire departments. The fire commission is way out of line in attempting to change the scope and applicability of this document without any legislative authorization or a compelling reason for doing so. This action must be stopped by any and all means necessary. The WVSFA and other organizations are prepared to do so but we need your help.

These referenced Standards include, but are certainly not limited to: NFPA 1500, NFPA 1911, NFPA 1021, NFPA 1041, NFPA 1720, NFPA 1000, NFPA 1001, NFPA 1002, NFPA 1003 and NFPA 1006 . Further, as any violation of the State Fire Code is, by statute, a criminal offense, it would become a criminal offense if you or your department doesn’t meet the Standard(s). Let me give you a few examples:

  • a. NFPA 1001 requires all firefighters to be Haz Mat Operations level at a minimum – many WV volunteer firefighters are currently just Awareness Level. Keep in mind, all Operations Level personnel are to be supervised by a Technician.
  • b. NFPA 1002 would require that all apparatus drivers be certified to the Driver/Operator level for any apparatus they drive – not just the current EVOC course.
  • c. NFPA 1500 requires all firefighters to have a comprehensive annual physical and would exclude members from service who have certain pre-existing medical conditions. Cost projections of what this would cost individual departments vary widely from $250.00 per member per year to as much as $500.00 per member per year with a much higher initial cost due to baseline establishment.
  • d. NFPA 1911 requires that all fire apparatus maintenance and inspections be performed by a person who is fully certified in NFPA 1071 (Level II) and NFPA 1002 as a Driver/Operator for that piece. I doubt that there are five (5) people that meet these qualifications in the whole State, e.g. have both certifications.
  • e. NFPA 1021 would require that all fire line officers – from lieutenants to fire chiefs – would have to be fire instructors as well. Chief Officers would have to be Fire Officer III and Fire Chiefs would have to meet Fire Officer IV.
  • f. NFPA 1720, establishes requirements for the organization, deployment, operations of volunteer fire departments. Includes health and safety programs, risk management programs, record keeping requirements, etc….. All of these extensive programs cost more money.
  • g. And you, and your fire line officers and Board of Directors could be charged criminally if your department doesn’t meet any of the referenced Standards.
  • h. The Re-certification rules require all fire departments to meet all the requirements promulgated by the fire commission as part of the recertification process, so we would have to meet these standards in order to maintain certification/recognition.
  • i. We could go on and on……

The Association is asking that all member departments, their individual members and their county associations submit written comments ASAP. Please consider the use of the attached DRAFT Comment letters as a template for filing comments with the Commission. Remember, the comment period ends August 24th at 4:00 pm so your immediate action is needed. Please feel free to add any additional comments that you feel are appropriate or to write your own letter(s) of comment. We encourage you to become involved in the process as these rules impact how you will operate. You can also email written comments to: Please copy the Association ( on the email so we can keep track of the communications. We will present printed copies of the e-mailed comments at the public hearing.

The WV SFA Officers, Executive Committee, Legislative Committee, our Lobbyist, and our representatives on the Fire Commission have fought long and hard to stop this nonsense. Even the West Virginia Municipal League has joined the fight in agreement with us because they realize even the cities cannot afford to implement these Standards in their entirety. It is now time for the Fire Commission and those in the Legislature to hear from you as the end user. They need to see that there are real people on real volunteer fire departments behind our protests. We are asking you to send in your comments – either by use of our suggested template or on your own. We are also asking for you to show up at the Fire Commission public hearing on the Fire Code on Friday, August 24 th at 10:00 am and sign up to speak. Please do not miss on your last chance to be heard…

Respectfully submitted,

James L. Oldaker, President

Attachments: Training Rule Comment Template, Fire Code Comment Template

NOTE: If you want to send in a comment, please email comments to: Please copy the Association ( on the email so we can keep track of the communications.

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