The S.C. Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) was the subject of an audit by the S.C. Legislative Audit Council, a semi-independent agency that audits state agencies and programs when requested by members of the S.C. General Assembly. In addition, the Fire Marshal’s office also will be the subject of a publish hearing by the S.C. Senate later this month.

From the audit: “We identified several areas of concern regarding the regulation of fire extinguishing equipment used by South Carolina businesses and other organizations. First, policies and practices of the OSFM have been inconsistent with the fire codes pertaining to portable fire extinguishers that are no longer manufactured and standards for commercial stoves. Second, the OSFM has not adequately informed regulated organizations on how to gain free access to the fire codes, the specific fire code sections on which citations of violations are based, or their rights to appeal. Finally, the OSFM does not have a review process to check for unnecessary upgrades of fire extinguishing equipment that vendors tell organizations are needed to comply with the fire codes. As a result, organizations, such as businesses, schools, and hospitals in South Carolina are likely to have incurred unnecessary costs.”

The audit was requested by state Senator Glenn Reese (D-Spartanburg). S.C. Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) will convene a meeting of the Senate Labor, Commerce & Industry (LCI) Committee on December 16 in Columbia to hear “horror stories” related to the OSFM.

The state Fire Marshal, John Reich, was the leading proponent of the mandatory fire sprinkler legislation that was considered by the S.C. General Assembly in 2010. As a result of lobbying by the Home Builders Association of South Carolina, enforcement of mandatory fire sprinklers in new homes was delayed until January 1, 2014, at the earliest.

Read the entire audit report by clicking here.

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