(1) Prevention of fire;
(2) The storage, sale and use of any explosive, combustible or other dangerous article or articles in solid, flammable liquid or gas form;
(3) The installation and maintenance of equipment of all sorts intended to extinguish, detect and control fires;
(4) The means and adequacy of exit, in case of fire, from buildings and all other places in which persons work, live or congregate, from time to time, for any purpose, except buildings used wholly as dwelling houses for no more than two families;
(5) The suppression of arson; and
(6) Any other thing necessary to carry into effect the provisions of this article including, but not limited to, confiscating any materials, chemicals, items, or personal property owned, possessed or used in direct violation of the State Fire Code.
(b) Assistance upon request. -- Upon request, the State Fire Marshal shall assist any chief of any recognized fire company or department. Upon the request of any federal law-enforcement officer, state police officer, natural resources police officer or any county or municipal law-enforcement officer, the State Fire Marshal, any deputy state fire marshal or assistant state fire marshal employed pursuant to section eleven of this article and any person deputized pursuant to subsection (j) of this section may assist in the lawful execution of the requesting officer's official duties: Provided, That the State Fire Marshal or other person authorized to act under this subsection shall at all times work under the direct supervision of the requesting officer.
(c) Enforcement of rules. -- The State Fire Marshal shall enforce the rules promulgated by the State Fire Commission as authorized by this article.
(d) Inspections generally. -- The State Fire Marshal shall inspect all structures and facilities, other than one- and two-family dwelling houses, subject to the State Fire Code and this article, including, but not limited to, state, county and municipally owned institutions, all public and private schools, health care facilities, theaters, churches and other places of public assembly to determine whether the structures or facilities are in compliance with the State Fire Code.
(e) Right of entry. -- The State Fire Marshal may, at all reasonable hours, enter any building or premises, other than dwelling houses, for the purpose of making an inspection which he or she may consider necessary under the provisions of this article. The State Fire Marshal and any deputy state fire marshal or assistant state fire marshal approved by the State Fire Marshal may enter upon any property, or enter any building, structure or premises, including dwelling houses during construction and prior to occupancy, for the purpose of ascertaining compliance with the conditions set forth in any permit or license issued by the office of the State Fire Marshal pursuant to subdivision (1), subsection (a), section twelve-b of this article or of article three-b of this chapter.
(f) Investigations. -- The State Fire Marshal may, at any time, investigate as to the origin or circumstances of any fire or explosion or attempt to cause fire or explosion occurring in the state. The State Fire Marshal has the authority at all times of the day or night, in performance of the duties imposed by the provisions of this article, to investigate where any fires or explosions or attempt to cause fires or explosions may have occurred, or which at the time may be burning. Notwithstanding the above provisions of this subsection, prior to entering any building or premises for the purposes of the investigation, the state Fire Marshal shall obtain a proper search warrant: Provided, That a search warrant is not necessary where there is permissive waiver or the State Fire Marshal is an invitee of the individual having legal custody and control of the property, building or premises to be searched.
(g) Testimony. -- The State Fire Marshal, in making an inspection or investigation when in his or her judgment the proceedings are necessary, may take the statements or testimony under oath of all persons who may be cognizant of any facts or have any knowledge about the matter to be examined and inquired into and may have the statements or testimony reduced to writing; and shall transmit a copy of the statements or testimony so taken to the prosecuting attorney for the county wherein the fire or explosion or attempt to cause a fire or explosion occurred. Notwithstanding the above, no person may be compelled to testify or give any statement under this subsection.
(h) Arrests; warrants. -- The State Fire Marshal, any full-time deputy fire marshal or any full-time assistant fire marshal employed by the State Fire Marshal pursuant to section eleven of this article is hereby authorized and empowered and any person deputized pursuant to subsection (j) of this section may be authorized and empowered by the State Fire Marshal:
(1) To arrest any person anywhere within the confines of the State of West Virginia, or have him or her arrested, for any violation of the arson-related offenses of article three, chapter sixty-one of this code or of the explosives-related offenses of article three-e of said chapter: Provided, That any and all persons so arrested shall be forthwith brought before the magistrate or circuit court.
(2) To make complaint in writing before any court or officer having jurisdiction and obtain, serve and execute an arrest warrant when knowing or having reason to believe that anyone has committed an offense under any provision of this article, of the arson-related offenses of article three, chapter sixty-one of this code or of the explosives-related offenses of article three-e of said chapter. Proper return shall be made on all arrest warrants before the tribunal having jurisdiction over the violation.
(3) To make complaint in writing before any court or officer having jurisdiction and obtain, serve and execute a warrant for the search of any premises that may possess evidence or unlawful contraband relating to violations of this article, of the arson-related offenses of article three, chapter sixty-one of this code or of the explosives-related offenses of article three-e of said chapter. Proper return shall be made on all search warrants before the tribunal having jurisdiction over the violation.
(i) Witnesses and oaths. -- The State Fire Marshal is empowered and authorized to issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum to compel the attendance of persons before him or her to testify in relation to any matter which is, by the provision of this article, a subject of inquiry and investigation by the state Fire Marshal and cause to be produced before him or her such papers as he or she may require in making the examination. The State Fire Marshal is hereby authorized to administer oaths and affirmations to persons appearing as witnesses before him or her. False swearing in any matter or proceeding aforesaid is considered perjury and is punishable as perjury.
(j) Deputizing members of fire departments in this state. -- The State Fire Marshal may deputize a member of any fire department, duly organized and operating in this state, who is approved by the chief of his or her department and who is properly qualified to act as his or her assistant for the purpose of making inspections with the consent of the property owner or the person in control of the property and the investigations as may be directed by the State Fire Marshal, and the carrying out of orders as may be prescribed by him or her, to enforce and make effective the provisions of this article and any and all rules promulgated by the State Fire Commission under authority of this article: Provided, That in the case of a volunteer fire department, only the chief thereof or his or her single designated assistant may be so deputized.
(k) Written report of examinations. -- The State Fire Marshal shall, at the request of the county commission of any county or the municipal authorities of any incorporated municipality in this state, make to them a written report of the examination made by him or her regarding any fire happening within their respective jurisdictions.
(l) Report of losses by insurance companies. -- It is the duty of each fire insurance company or association doing business in this state, within ten days after the adjustment of any loss sustained by it that exceeds $1,500, to report to the State Fire Marshal information regarding the amount of insurance, the value of the property insured and the amount of claim as adjusted. This report is in addition to any information required by the State Insurance Commissioner. Upon the request of the owner or insurer of any property destroyed or injured by fire or explosion, or in which an attempt to cause a fire or explosion may have occurred, the State Fire Marshal shall report in writing to the owner or insurer the result of the examination regarding the property.
(m) Issuance of permits and licenses. -- The State Fire Marshal is authorized to issue permits, documents and licenses in accordance with the provisions of this article or of article three-b of this chapter. The State Fire Marshal may require any person who applies for a permit to use explosives, other than an applicant for a license to be a pyrotechnic operator under section twenty-four of this article, to be fingerprinted and to authorize the State Fire Marshal to conduct a criminal records check through the criminal identification bureau of the West Virginia State Police and a national criminal history check through the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The results of any criminal records or criminal history check shall be sent to the State Fire Marshal.
(n) Issuance of citations for fire and life safety violations. -- The State Fire Marshal, any deputy fire marshal and any assistant fire marshal employed pursuant to section eleven of this article are hereby authorized, and any person deputized pursuant to subsection (j) of this section may be authorized by the State Fire Marshal to issue citations, in his or her jurisdiction, for fire and life safety violations of the State Fire Code and as provided for by the rules promulgated by the State Fire Commission in accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code: Provided, That a summary report of all citations issued pursuant to this section by persons deputized under subsection (j) of this section shall be forwarded monthly to the State Fire Marshal in the form and containing information as he or she may by rule require, including the violation for which the citation was issued, the date of issuance, the name of the person issuing the citation and the person to whom the citation was issued. The State Fire Marshal may at any time revoke the authorization of a person deputized pursuant to subsection (j) of this section to issue citations, if in the opinion of the State Fire Marshal, the exercise of authority by the person is inappropriate.
Violations for which citations may be issued include, but are not limited to:
(1) Overcrowding places of public assembly;
(2) Locked or blocked exits in public areas;
(3) Failure to abate a fire hazard;
(4) Blocking of fire lanes or fire department connections; and
(5) Tampering with, or rendering inoperable except during necessary maintenance or repairs, on-premise firefighting equipment, fire detection equipment and fire alarm systems.
(o) Required training; liability coverage. -- No person deputized pursuant to subsection (j) of this section may be authorized to issue a citation unless that person has satisfactorily completed a law-enforcement officer training course designed specifically for fire marshals. The course shall be approved by the Law-enforcement Training Subcommittee of the Governor's Committee on Criminal Justice and Highway Safety and the State Fire Commission. In addition, no person deputized pursuant to subsection (j) of this section may be authorized to issue a citation until evidence of liability coverage of the person has been provided, in the case of a paid municipal fire department by the municipality wherein the fire department is located, or in the case of a volunteer fire department, by the county commission of the county wherein the fire department is located or by the municipality served by the volunteer fire department and that evidence of liability coverage has been filed with the State Fire Marshal.
(p) Penalties for violations. -- Any person who violates any fire and life safety rule of the State Fire Code is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 or confined in jail not more than ninety days, or both fined and confined.
Each and every day during which any violation of the provisions of this article continues after knowledge or official notice that same is illegal is a separate offense.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.