Copy of the New Jersey Fire Marshal Law
Following is a copy of the Fire Marshall Bill now before the New Jersey State Legislature, with a good prospect of becoming a law. With the exception of a few unimportant sentences, the Bill is here presented in full:
- The Governor is hereby authorized and empowered to appoint, within 30 days after this act shall take effect, the Commissioner of Labor as State Fire Marshal, whose term of office shall run concurrently with that of the Commissioner of Labor, or until his successor shall be appointed. The office of State Fire Marshal shall be located at the State House in the office of the Commissioner of Labor. He shall receive an annual salary of $1,000, and he is hereby authorixed in concurrence with the Governor and Comptroller to employ such assistance and incur such expense in the discharge of his official duties not exceeding the sum of ……. thousand dollars, including printing, stationery, traveling expenses, postage, stenographers and office help. The State Fire Marshal, his deputies and assistants, except such as are named in Section 7 of this act. shall take and subscribe and file in the office of the Secretary of State the constitutional oath within 15 days from time of notice of this appointment, respectively.
- It shall be the duty of the State Fire Marshal to enforce all laws and ordinances of the State, aod the several counties, cities, boroughs, townships, towns and municipalities, as follows: 1. The prevention of fires. 2. The storage, sale and use of combustibles and explosives. 3. The installation and maintenance of automatic or other tire alarm systems, and fire extinguishing equipment. 4. The construction, maintenance and regulation of fire escapes. 5. The means and adequacy of exit in case of fire from factories, asylums, hospitals, churches, schools, halls, theatres, amphitheatres and all other places in which numbers of persons work, live or congregate from time to time for any purpose. 6. The suppression of arson and investigation of the cause, origin and circumstances of fite. The State Fire Marshal, his deputies and assistants, shall have such other powers and perform such other duties as are set forth in this act, and as may be conferred and imposed front time to time by law.
- Duties of the State Fire Marshal and assistants to inspect property.-The State Fire Marshal shall make regulations for the keeping, storage, use, manufacture, sale, handling, transportation or other disposition of highly inflammable materials and rubbish, gunpowder, dynamite, crude petroleum or any of its products, explosive or inflammable fluids or compounds, tablets, torpedoes or any explosives of a like nature or any other explosives, including fireworks and firecrackers, and may prescribe the materials and construction of receptacles and buildings to he used for any of the said purposes. The Slate l ire Marshal, his deputies or assistants, upon the complaint of any person, or whenever he or they shall deem it necessary shall inspect all buildings and premises within their jurisdiction. Whenever any of said officers shall find any building or other structure which, for want of repairs, lack of or insufficient fire escapes, automatic or other fire alarms apparatus or fire extinguishing equipment, or by reason of age or dilapidated condition, or from any other cause, is especialy liable to tire, and which is so situated as to endanger other property, and whenever such officer shall find in anv building combustible or explosive matter or inflammable conditions dangerous to the safety of such buildings, he or they shall order the same to he removed or remedied, and such order shall forthwith be complied with by the owner or occupant of such premises or budding. If such order is made by any deputy or assistant to the State Fire Marshal, such owner or occupant may, within 21 hours, appeal to the State Fire Marshal, who shall, within lb days, review such order and fde his decision thereon, and unless by his authority the order is revoked or modified it shall remain in full force and lie complied with within the time fixed in said order or decision of the State hire Marshal; Provided, however, that any such owner or occupant, who feels himself aggrieved by any well order, or affirmed order, may, within five day* after the making or affirming of any such order by the State Fire Marahal, file his petition with the county Court of Common Plea* of the county in which aaid property mar be located, praymg a review of such order, and it shall be the duty of such court to hear the same at the first convenient day and to make such order in the premises as right and justice may require, and such decision shall be final.
If any person fail to comply with the order of any officer under this section or with the order as modified on appeals herein provided, and within the time fixed, then such officer is hereby empowered and authorized to cause such building or premises to be repaired, torn down, demolished, materials removed and all dangerous conditions remedied, as the case may be, at the expense of such person, and if such person, within 80 davs thereafter, fail, neglect or refuse to repay said officer the expense thereby incurred by him, such officer shall certify said expenses, together with 25 per centum penalty thereon to the clerk of the city, village, town, township, borough or other municipality in which said property is situated, and the said city, town, township, borough or other municipality clerk shall enter said expense* on the tax roll of said city, town, township, borough or other municipality as a special tax against the real estate on which said building is or was situated, and the same shall be collected as other taxes, and when collected shall, together with the penalty thereon, be refunded to such officer. Any owner or occupant failing to comply wich such order within 80 days after said appeal rhatt have been determined, or, if no appeal i* taken, then wthin 30 days after the service of the said order, or with the time fixed in said order, shall be liable to a penn’ty of not less than $10 nor more than $50 for each day’s neglect thereafter.
- Powers of State Fire Marshal, deputies and assistants.—The State Fire Marshal or his deputies may. in addition to the investigation made by any of his assistants, at any time investigate as to the origin or c_____tances of any fire occurring in this State. The Stole Fire Marshal, his deputies and assistants, shall have the power to summon witnesses and compel them, or either of them, and to testify in relation to anv matter which is bv the provisions of this act a subject of inquiry and investigation, and may require the production of any hook, paper or document deemed pertinent or necessary to the inquiry, and shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations to any person appearing as a witness before them, and false swearing in any matter aforeraid shall he deemed perjury and prosecuted as such. Such examination may he public or private, as the officers conducting the investigation may determine, and persons other than those required to be present may be excluded from the place where such examination is held, and witnesses may be kept separate and apart from each other and not allowed to communicate with each other until they have been examined. Tf. after such examination of witnesses or any investigation, the State Fire Marshal or any of his deputies or assistants is of the opinion that the facts in relation to such fire indicate that a crime has been committed, he shall present the testimony taken on such examination, together with any other data in his possession, to the prosecutor of the proper county, with the request that he institute such eriminal proceedings as such testimony or data may warrant, and it shall be the dutv of the attorney in the State Fire Marshal’s department to assist in the taking of testimony and cross-examination of witnesses, and to aid and assist prosecutors in thr prosecution ot all arson cases in all the courts of the State. The State Fire Marshal or his deputies, or any of Ins assistants, may at all reasonable hours enter anv building or premises within his jurisdiction for the purpose of making an inspection or investigation which, under the provisions of this act, he or they may deem necessary to he made.
- Witnesses.—Any witness who refuses to obey a summons of the State Fire Marshal, his deputies or assistants. or who refuses to he sworn or to testify, or who disobeys any lawful order in relation to any invesligation, or who fails or refuses to produce any book, paper or document touching any matter under investigation or examination, or who is guilty of any contemptuous act after being summoned to give testimony in relation to nnv matter or subiect under examination or investigation as aforesaid, may he punished as for contempt of court.
- Deputies.—The State Fire Marshal shall appoint a first deputy fire marshal, who shall receive an annual salary of.dollars, and a second deputv marshal, who shall receive an annual salary of . dollars, at least nor of whom shall be an attorney-nt-law. The State Fire Marshal shall also appoint a secretary and such other clerks and assistants os shall he needed in the performance of the duties of his oflior, and shall fix their comnrpsntion. In case of the ahsenre of the State Fire Marshal, or his inability from any cause to discharge the duties of his office, such duties shall devolve upon the First Deputy State Fire Marshal: and in caso of the ahsenre of the State Fire Marshal and the First Deputv State Fire Marshal, or their inability from anv cause to discharge the duties and powers of their office. such duties and powers shall devolve upon the Second Deputy State Fire Marshal. The State Fire Marshal, his deputies, assistant and other members of his department. in addition to their salaries, shall he paid their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.
- Assistant officers. All municipal fire marshals, and in those cities. towns, boroughs, townships and other municipalities having such officers, and. where no such officer exists, the chief of the fire department of every incorporated citv, town, township, borough, village or township in which a fire department is established under any laws of this State, the mayor or like senior officer of each incorporated city, borough, town, township, village or other municipality in which no fire department and the clerk of each organized village, town or township without the limits of anv incorporated citv. borough, town, township or village shall be. by virtue of such office so held by them, assistants to the State Fire Marshal and subject to the duties and obligations imposed bv this act, and shall hr subject to the directions of the State Fire Marshal in the execution of the provisions thereof.
- Duties of local assistants to the State Ftre Marshal to investigate the cause and origin of all fires.— The ssslstsnts to the State Fire Marshal, as defined In the rpreceding section, shall investigate the cause, origin and circumstances of every fire occurring in any city borough, town, township, village or other municipality in this State by which property has been destroyed or damaged, and, so far as it is possible determine whether, the fire was the result of carelessness or design. Such investigation shall he begun immediately upon the occurrence of such fire by the assistant in whose territory such fire has occurred, and if it appears to the officer making such investigation that such fire is of suspicious origin, the State Fire Marshal shall be immediately notified of such fact. Every fire occurring in this State shall be reported in writing to the State Fire Marsha! within ten days after the occurrence of the same by the officer designated in section seven of this act in whose jurisdiction such fire has occurred; such report shall be in the form prescribed by the State Fire Marshal and shall contain a statement of all facts relating to the cause and origin of such fire that can be ascertained, the extent of damage thereof and the insurance upon such property, and such other information as may be required.
- Compensation of assistants. All local assistants of the State Fire Marshal shall receive, upon the audit of the State Fire Marshal, 50 cents for each report of each separate fire reported to the State Fire Marshal under the provisions of this act, and in addition there shall be paid to the chiefs of the fire departments, or to the president or mayor or like senior officer, whose duty it shall have been to make, and who actually do make, the investigation, in the discretion of the State Fire Marshal a sutn not to exceed two dollars for each day’s service actually spent in such investigation.
- Records. The State Fire Marshal shall keep in his office a record of all fires occurring in this State and of all the facts concerning the same, including statistics, as to the extent of such fires and the damage caused thereby, and whether such losses were covered by insurance, and. if so, in what amount. Such record shall be made daily from the reports made to him by his assistants under the provisions of this act. All such records shall be public, except any testimony taken in an investigation under the provisions of this act, which the State Fire Marshal in his discretion may withhold from the public.
- Report of insurance companies.—Every fire insurance company authorised to transact business in this State is hereby required to report to the State Fire Marshal, through the secretary or other officer of the company designated by the hoard of directors for that purpose, all fire losses on property insured in any such company, giving the date of fire, the amount of probable loss, the character of property destroyed or damaged, and the supposed cause of the fire. Such report shall be mailed to the State Fire Marshal within three days after notice of loss is received by such company. Each company is hereby required to report the amount of loss as adjusted on each fire after adjustment is made. Any company that fails to make such reports as aforesaid, or any of them, and if the same shall be reported by the State Fire Marshal to the Secrcary of State in writing, the Secretary of State shall forthwith revoke any certificate of authority issued to said company, and until the provisions of this act shall have been complied with bv such company to the satisfaction of the State Fire Marshal said company shall not have authority to transact further business in this State.
Annual report.—The State Fire Marshal shall annually, on or before the ……….. day of ……, transmit to the Governor a full report of his proceedings under this act and such statistics as he may wish to include therein.
Fire drills.—It shall he the duty of the State Fire Marshal, his deputies and assistants, to require teachers of public and private schools and educational institutions to have at least one fire drill each month, and to keep all doors and exits unlocked during school hours, such fire drills to he under the supervision of the State Fire Marshal, his deputies or assistants, and to be had whenever ordered.
Books of instructions.—It shall be the duty of the State Fire Marshal to prepare, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education of this State, books of instructions for use in the public and private schools and educational institutions, with regard to the dangers of fire and the prevention thereof; said books of instructions shall be published at the expense of the State, and shall be distributed in sufficient quantities to the several assistants of the State Fire Marshal for distribution in every public and private school and educational institution in said assistant’s territory.
- Penalty for neglect of official duty,—Any officer referred to in this act who neglects to comply with any of the requirements hereof shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
- Penalties.—All penalties, fees or forfeitures collected under the provisions of this act shall be paid into the treasury of the State for the benefit of the State Fire Marshal fund.