I-Team: Bill would limit fire inspections

Fire inspectors in each city and town in Rhode Island are taskedwith checking local buildings, and possibly saving lives.

But just 10 years after The Station nightclub fire that killed 100people, one state lawmaker says it's time to inspect buildings less and notmore.

State Rep. Joseph Trillo: "Once a business comes up to firecode, they cannot be required to make structural changes for 10 years."
NBC 10's Katie Davis: "The bill doesn't say that right now."
Trillo: "The bill came in at the last minute. I had to putthat in order to cover the timeframe."

Trillo said many small business owners have been hard hit bychanges to the state fire code that followed The Station fire in 2003. Trillo'sbill says once a business is in compliance, inspectors shouldn't return for 10years.

"The fire department doesn't support anything. They want it as tough asthey can have it. The problem is that they've hurt a lot of smallbusinesses," he said.

Firefighters and fire marshals came to a hearing Thursday at theState House on the proposed legislation to speak out against the bill.

"My office as well as the majority of chiefs in Rhode Islandare in opposition to this bill. We think that the language as presentlywritten is too wide-reaching," said Rhode Island State Fire Marshal JackChartier.

Local fire departments say they already work with business ownersto make a long-term plan, so not all improvements have to be paid for at once.But they won't support cutting back on inspections.

"Say for instance that Rhode Island Hospital was completelyin compliance today, and I believe it is. Then we couldn't go back there for 10years. We don't think that's realistic," Chartier said.

Rhode Island's statewide fire code requires annual inspections ofevery school and nightclub, although Trillo's proposed bill is in conflict withthe law.

Trillo said he'll rewrite the legislation to address thoseproblems.