Sunday, October 1, 2023–10:05 a.m.
-David Crowder, WRGA News-
Floyd County is looking at a new set of fire ordinances that aim to help protect firefighters and allow fire inspectors to better do their jobs.
Rome-Floyd County Fire Department command staff has been working on the ordinances for several years. According to Fire Chief Troy Brock, they went through the county ordinances and there were very few that pertain to fire prevention and the fire department, unlike the city, which had a number of fire ordinances.
“I got with our attorney and they said we needed to have these adopted in the county as well,” Brock said. “So, that’s what started all of this.”
Current county ordinances only deal with alarm requirements, motor fuel dispensing regulations, and open burning. A lockbox ordinance was added just a couple of years ago.
One of the proposed new ordinances deals with hazardous materials response and recovery. According to Floyd County Manager Jamie McCord, there have been some issues in the past that the county was able to handle, but there needs to be more teeth in the ordinance.
“It turns into where the spill hits, it gets into a storm drain or an outfall and then it’s a question of who is responsible when it crosses off of private property into the public right-of-way,” he said. “I have specifically dealt with that one multiple times, and it’s a problem trying to figure out who is responsible for what. Ultimately, once it gets on our right-of-way we are responsible, but we should not be held solely responsible for something that happens on private property. The ordinance will clean that up for sure along with some other things.”
According to Brock the ordinances also prohibit people from being in the vicinity of a fire, spell out the duties of electricians when called upon by the fire department, address looting a fire scene, and set rules for insurance reports when fire losses are paid. There is also a list of fire prevention codes included, which basically allows the fire department to carry out inspections.
“You have to have an ordinance in place for the right of entry,” Brock said. “It also includes abatement orders, a violation and penalty section, which has already been voted on. We already had fees voted on in 2018, I think. It allows us to evacuate and allows us to test fire alarm systems. There is also an automatic adoption of the International Fire Code and Life Safety Code.”
The ordinances also help protect firefighters from interference or obstruction, restrict the public from riding on fire vehicles, and prohibit cutting off water at fire hydrants and things like vehicles running over hoses. They also allow the fire chief to create, enact, and enforce ordinances.
Again, none of these issues are currently addressed by county ordinances.
According to Brock, county legal has reviewed the proposed ordinances, which are set to go onto first reading during the Floyd County Commission’s first meeting in October.