Chapter 304/Fire Safety Act of 2004
Frequently Asked Questions
(Based on January 2005 Fire Safety Workshops)

1. Question : Will the Section 106 form, the State Building Code Certification form used by building inspectors, also be used by the fire departments?

Answer: The intention is to modify the current 106 certificate of inspection to have a sign off for the head of the local fire department, as defined in MGL Chapter 148. This will be completed by the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS). Contact BBRS at 617-727-3200.

2. Question: Does this mean that separate building inspections need to be conducted by the building inspector and the fire inspector?

Answer: No additional inspections are required for most facilities. Chapter 304 envisions that the inspections be done jointly with both building inspector and fire inspector present. This process should be started immediately using existing forms, such as the 106 certificate of inspection, with the understanding that BBRS will be providing a new form in the future (see Question 1). Also, some facilities that were never inspected (small bars) may now require inspection.

3. Question: Will the certificate of inspection include any location serving alcohol? Does the State Building Code need to change the 106 inspections for small occupancy restaurants, bars, etc?

Answer: Yes - the law requires all locations where alcohol is consumed on the premises to have this new joint inspection . The tie-in between the satisfactory joint building/fire inspections to allow for issuing a valid liquor license. The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) will be promulgating regulations to local authorities soon; all liquor licenses expire on Dec. 31 of each year. The licensing process annually runs from March - Dec.

4. Question: If a building has a sprinkler system without the notification or monitoring system, will the building's owner still be subject to the Chapter 304 timelines?

Answer: Yes, the owner will need to still meet the deadlines as well as the installation or monitoring system requirements for an adequate system as defined by the law.

5. Question : Will there be a new municipal clerk?

Answer: No. Under MGL Chapter 148A the town is allowed to hire a municipal hearings officer.

6. Question : What will the local appeal process be?

Answer: The first step will be to appeal to the municipal hearings officer. If further aggrieved, then they will need to go to the clerk magistrate (Chapter 148A)

7. Question : How does one determine when is it appropriate to levy a $10,000 fine?

Answer: Under MGL 148, the court would determine if a fine of such magnitude is appropriate after conviction.

8. Question: If there's a teen dance at a school or community center , will the group need a permit from the fire department?

Answer: Yes. If the event meets the criteria, then a temporary permit from the fire department in consultation with the building department may be issued. The fire department may place conditions on the permit.

9. Question: Will DFS issue a letter to organizations to notify owners of places of assembly?

Answer: No. DFS will not issue letters. This is the responsibility of the local fire chiefs. For questions on code compliance and enforcement, contact DFS at 978-567-3375.

10. Question: Can communities start the required inspections now for the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, or ABCC, license renewal?

Answer: Yes, DFS recommends that communities start these inspections now as all will need to be completed by 12/31/05, the ABCC renewal deadline.

11. Question: What about consistency of business use within a building? What happens when a small restaurant by day turns into a bar at night? Will sprinklers be required?

Answer: Determination needs to be made by the local fire chief who needs to look at the primary use and the criteria outlined in Chapter 304. This may also be a building code violation and the BBRS should be contacted for further information.

12. Question: How can owners handle the cost of sprinkler system retrofits for struggling non-profit organizations?

Answer: The legislation directs the Executive Office of Economic Affairs to develop a plan aimed at providing financial assistance in implementing Section 26 G 1/2, which will be submitted to the legislature.

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