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Introduced Version Senate Bill 384 History

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Senate Bill No. 384

(By Senators Unger, Snyder, Stollings, Green and Barnes)

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[Introduced February 23, 2009; referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.]

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A BILL to amend and reenact §29-3A-1 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to authority to control an emergency scene on state highways.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §29-3A-1 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3A. AUTHORITY OF LOCAL FIRE DEPARTMENTS.

§29-3A-1. Authority of fire officers in charge of fire, service call or other emergency; definition.
While any fire department recognized or approved by the West Virginia State Fire Commission is responding to, operating at or returning from a fire, fire hazard, service call or other emergency, the fire chief, any other elected or appointed fire line officer, or any member serving in the capacity of appointed fire line officer in charge, except on industrial property where trained industrial fire fighting personnel are present, shall have the authority:
(1) Of controlling and directing fire fighting and fire control activities at such scene;
(2) To order any person or persons to leave any building or place in the vicinity of such scene for the purpose of protecting such persons from injury;
(3) To blockade any public highway, street or private right-of-way temporarily while at such scene. If the incident occurs on a public highway and the highway is closed in excess of two hours, representatives appointed by the Secretary of Transportation shall take control of the situation in order to restore traffic flow in the area;
(4) To enter the building, structure, enclosure or other property of any person or persons at any time of the day or night, without liability, while operating at such scene;
(5) To enter any building, including private dwellings, or upon any premises where an emergency exists, or where there is reasonable cause to believe an emergency exists, for the purpose of eliminating the emergency;
(6) To enter any building, including private dwellings, or premises near the scene of the emergency for the purpose of protecting the building or premises or for the purpose of eliminating the emergency which is in progress in another building or premises;
(7) To inspect for preplanning, all buildings, structures or other places in their fire district, excepting, however, the interior of a private dwelling, with the consent of the owner or occupant, where any combustible materials, including waste paper, rags, shavings, waste, leather, rubber, crates, boxes, barrels, rubbish or other combustible material that is or may become dangerous as a fire menace to such building or buildings, structure or other places has been allowed to accumulate or where such chief or his or her designated representative has reason to believe that such material of a combustible nature has accumulated or is liable to be accumulated;
(8) To direct the removal or destroying of any fence, house, motor vehicle or other thing which may reasonably be determined to be necessary to be pulled down, destroyed, or removed to prevent the further spread of the fire or hazardous condition;
(9) To request and be supplied with additional materials such as sand, treatments, chemicals, etc., and special equipment when dealing with an accident on a public highway or railroad right-of-way when it is deemed a necessity to prevent the further spread of the fire or hazardous condition, the cost of which to be borne by the owner of the instrumentality which caused the fire or hazardous condition;
(10) To order disengagement or discouplement of any convoy, caravan or train of vehicles, craft or railway cars if deemed a necessity in the interest of safety of persons or property; and
(11) As used in this article, the term "emergency" means a situation in which the fire officer in charge knows or in which a reasonable person would believe that there exists an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death to a person or significant damage to property.



NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to authorize the Department of Transportation to take control of an emergency scene on a highway.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.
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