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Manuel P. Neves, Chair (Fire Chief, Honolulu Fire Department [HFD])

Robert Westerman, Vice Chair (Fire Chief, Kauai Fire Department)

Jeffrey Murray, Member (Fire Chief, Department of Fire and Public Safety, County of Maui)

Darren Rosario, Member (Fire Chief, Hawaii Fire Department)

Socrates Bratakos, Administrator (Battalion Chief [BC], HFD)

Lloyd Rogers, Administrative Specialist (Retired BC, HFD)

Carol-Louise Carper, Secretary 

 

OVERVIEW

 

The SFC is an administrative agency attached to the State of Hawaii (State), Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and recognized, for all intents and purposes, as Hawaii's equivalent of the State Fire Marshal's Office.  Comprised of the four county Fire Chiefs and an administrative support staff, the SFC's primary mission is to develop and support a comprehensive fire service emergency management network for the protection of life, property, and the environment for the State.  Through a collaborative and unified approach, the SFC promotes the standardization of fire service reporting, training, sharing of technology, resources, and best practices.

 

In accordance with Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) 132, the SFC is tasked with the adoption of the State Fire Code and the support and assistance with federal grant programs for the fire service in Hawaii.  The SFC may advise and assist the county fire departments where appropriate; prescribe standard procedures and forms related to inspections, investigations, and reporting of fires; and advise the Governor and State Legislature on issues relating to fire prevention and protection, life safety, and other functions or activities of the various county fire departments. 

  

KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS

 

Reduced Ignition Propensity Cigarettes (RIPC) Program

 

In 2009, the SFC was successful in encouraging and securing the passage of key legislation that mandated that only cigarettes manufactured and packaged in compliance with the RIPC program may be sold.  The purposes and goals of this legislation were to reduce the number of fires attributed to cigarettes and to

support this initiative on a national level.  HRS 132C delineates program requirements. 

 

Adoption of the State Fire Code

 

On January 1, 2010, the SFC adopted National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1, Uniform Fire Code (UFC), 2006 Edition as the State Fire Code.  This code was approved by former Governor Linda Lingle.  The SFC subsequently assisted the county fire departments with adopting the State Fire Code at the local level to include amendments appropriate and applicable to the respective jurisdiction.  To date, three of the four counties utilize the NFPA 1, UFC, 2006 Edition for fire code applications.  The SFC's Fire Prevention Committee reviewed the NFPA 1, UFC, 2012 Edition with uniform statewide amendments for adoption as the next State Fire Code. 

 

Fireworks

 

The SFC continues to propose and support legislation that addresses fire safety issues related to the sale and use of consumer and display fireworks.

 

In 2010, the SFC successfully promoted the passage of legislation that allowed counties to establish and adopt regulations that are more restrictive than state law as it relates to the regulation of fireworks.  In essence, this "home rule" concept allowed the City and County of Honolulu to pass an ordinance that prohibits the sale, possession, and use of consumer fireworks, except for fire crackers by county permit, within its jurisdiction.  The SFC will continue its effort to strengthen the administration and enforcement of fireworks laws by working with county, state, federal, and private agencies and educating the community on fireworks safety.  

OUTREACH INITIATIVES

 

The SFC continues to support the efforts of the State Building Code Council (SBCC) as a forum to encourage a collaborative approach to the development and adoption of a comprehensive building code package for the State.  The position and concerns of the State's fire service is clearly communicated and addressed through the SFC Administrator's active and engaged participation as a voting member of the SBCC.  A specific example of this partnership and engagement's value in the SBCC is clearly evident with regard to the evaluation and study of residential fire sprinkler systems issues.  The process of conducting this study has provided tremendous opportunity for stakeholders to consider various issues and aspects of this controversial topic, help dispel myths, and validate issues regarding mandating such systems in future codes. 

 

The SFC's outreach mission also includes ongoing efforts with supporting and coordinating the delivery of statewide fire and emergency service training programs.  These courses are generally aligned with and administered through the National Fire Academy (NFA) and provide opportunities statewide via off-site or locally delivered courses by NFA instructors.  These training courses and programs range from public education and prevention program development and management to leadership and professional development programs. 

 

LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES

 

In 2011, the SFC succeeded in passing a state law to ban the sale or distribution of novelty lighters, which create an unnecessary attraction for children.

 

In 2012, the SFC successfully encouraged the passage of a law that prohibits the sale, possession, and use of devices referred to as aerial luminaries or sky lanterns.  These devices, which are essentially miniature hot air balloons, are propelled or inflated by an ignited fuel cell and drift in ambient winds.  The SFC's success in this issue has received national attention, and other fire service and safety organizations are inquiring how the SFC accomplished this.

 

Also in 2012, the SFC vigorously opposed legislation that would prohibit counties from requiring fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family dwellings.  Although the SBCC's Fire Sprinkler Investigative Committee was examining issues related to fire sprinklers in new residences with participation from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, the legislation passed and was signed into law.  The SFC successfully added an exception to allow fire sprinklers in new residences as an alternative for those who do not meet fire department road access and/or water supply requirements and a sunset provision for 2017.

 

As of March 26, 2013, 2 states have adopted the requirement to install fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family dwellings; 26 states, through legislative mandate or building code rulemaking entity, prohibit the mandated use of fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family dwellings; and 17 states have no statewide residential fire sprinkler requirement but allow local jurisdictions to require fire sprinklers.  The latest editions of U.S. model building codes require fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family dwellings.  The SFC will continue to educate the community on the cost-benefits of residential fire sprinklers.

 

The SFC will also continue to educate and be an advocate for fire, life safety, and property protection in the community to reduce the devastating consequences of fire, hazardous materials, and other dangerous conditions. 

 

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVES

 

The following focus areas are identified and addressed in synchrony with the SFC's Strategic Plan:

 

Mitigate Potential Hazards

 

    To the extent that is practical and feasible, adopt the current National Fire Code with amendments as the State Fire Code with uniform statewide amendments.

 

    Develop a risk management plan to prioritize fire inspections of occupancies for all counties.

 

    Develop statewide presentations to address identified hazards and assist in public education.  Utilize the NFPA and other recognized authorities for information on presentation development.

 

    Obtain funding to provide necessary resources to assist the SFC in meeting its goals and objectives.

 

    Develop or adopt a Statewide Drought and Wildland Fire Mitigation Plan, which may include mutual aid agreements, hazard identification and monitoring systems, training, and public awareness/education programs.

 

    Identify and prioritize areas of vulnerability for all counties and assess each county's capability to respond to emergencies in identified risk areas.

 

Training/Education and Equipment

 

    Facilitate the sharing of equipment specifications to assist all counties with purchasing necessary equipment and provide opportunities for possible group purchases that may result in fiscal savings.

 

    Identify minimum qualifications of fire service personnel and minimum training requirements to become certified in various fire service classifications, including Chief Officers.  The certification process should include all professional career paths.

 

    Support the concept and development of a statewide fire emergency training facility that will benefit fire departments statewide.

 

Statewide Response Policy

 

    Develop mutual aid plans and agreements to assist the fire service during statewide technological and/or natural disasters.

 

    Investigate and develop recommendations for technical or specialized response programs that may be standardized and supported with a reasonable degree of consistency by county fire service organizations, i.e., urban search and rescue, Incident Management Teams, etc.

 

Statewide Damage Assessment Policy

 

    Develop a statewide protocol to determine accurate fire dollar loss by working with private insurance and contractor agencies.

 

    Assist in documenting consistent and accurate fire-related losses and savings incurred by fire personnel's actions.

 

Statewide Reporting System

 

    Support and maintain the use of the National Fire Incident Reporting System and data sets by county fire departments and promote a statewide reporting system and database.

 

    Pursue State or federal grants to assist the SFC in meeting the everchanging needs of a statewide reporting system.

 

    Develop a planning section to analyze statistics generated from a statewide reporting system.

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

 

Prior to July 1, 1979, the State Fire Marshal (SFM) was a division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies.  The office was fully funded by the State and staffed by an SFM and Chief Deputy Fire Marshal.  To enforce the provisions of the SFM's Rules and Regulations, the SFM empowered and utilized the services of the county fire departments.

 

On July 1, 1979, the SFM was abolished, and the SFC was established in its place.  In 1985, the SFC was removed from the jurisdiction of the Department of Regulatory Agencies and placed within the DLIR for administrative purposes. 

 

Although the State created the SFC and mandated responsibilities of that office, funds were not provided to maintain that office as previously provided for the SFM.

 

In addition, the county fire departments were disempowered to enforce requirements of the State Fire Code on state buildings and properties.  That provision continues to this day.

 

In November 2002, Governor Cayetano provided capital from his discretionary fund for a part-time staff member.  The DLIR continues to provide the funding for the part-time Administrative Assistant.  However, funds have still not been provided for facilities, supplies, equipment, and full-time staffing.    

 

As of June 1, 2009, Hawaii and Colorado remain the only two states that do not have an SFM.

 

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, October 02, 2013