Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 9.1. Commonwealth Public Safety
Subtitle .
Chapter 2. Department of Fire Programs
10/5/2022

Chapter 2. Department of Fire Programs.

§ 9.1-200. Department of Fire Programs.

There is created a Department of Fire Programs that shall be headed by a Director who shall be appointed by the Governor to serve at his pleasure. The Department shall be the designated state agency to receive and disburse any funds available to the Commonwealth under the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act (P. L. 93-498).

1978, c. 606, § 9-153; 1980, c. 728; 1981, c. 154; 1984, c. 720; 2001, c. 844.

§ 9.1-201. Powers of Executive Director.

The Executive Director shall have the following powers to:

1. Supervise the administration of the Department;

2. Prepare, approve, and submit all requests for appropriations and be responsible for all expenditures pursuant to appropriations;

3. Employ such staff as is necessary to carry out the powers and duties of this chapter, within the limits of available appropriations;

4. Accept on behalf of the Department grants from the United States government and agencies and instrumentalities thereof and any other sources. To these ends, the Executive Director shall have the power to execute such agreements in accordance with any policies of the Virginia Fire Services Board;

5. Do all acts necessary or convenient to carry out the purpose of this chapter and to assist the Board in carrying out its responsibilities and duties;

6. Make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of its duties and the execution of its powers under this chapter, including, but not limited to, contracts with the United States, other states, and agencies and governmental subdivisions of the Commonwealth;

7. Appoint a director of fire services training;

8. Receive funds as appropriated by the General Assembly collected pursuant to § 38.2-401, on an annual basis to be used as provided in subsection C of § 38.2-401;

9. Administer the Thermal Imaging Camera Grant Funds established pursuant to § 9.1-205; and

10. Administer the provisions of the Statewide Fire Prevention Code (§ 27-94 et seq.).

1978, c. 606, § 9-154; 1981, c. 154; 1985, cc. 397, 545; 2001, c. 844; 2002, c. 721; 2007, cc. 647, 741; 2012, cc. 164, 456.

§ 9.1-202. Virginia Fire Services Board; membership; terms; compensation.

A. The Virginia Fire Services Board (the Board) is established as a policy board within the meaning of § 2.2-2100 in the executive branch of state government. The Board shall consist of 15 members to be appointed by the Governor as follows: a representative of the insurance industry; two members of the general public with no connection to the fire services, one of whom shall be a representative of those industries affected by SARA Title III and OSHA training requirements; one member each from the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association, the Virginia State Firefighters Association, the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, the Virginia Fire Service Council, the Virginia Fire Prevention Association, the Virginia Chapter of the International Association of Arson Investigators, the Virginia Municipal League, and the Virginia Association of Counties; a local fire marshal as defined by § 27-30; and a certified Virginia fire service instructor. Of these appointees, at least one shall be a volunteer firefighter. The State Forester and a member of the Board of Housing and Community Development appointed by the chairman of that Board shall serve as ex officio members of the Board.

Each of the organizations represented shall submit at least three names for each position for the Governor's consideration in making these appointments.

B. Members of the Board appointed by the Governor shall serve for terms of four years. An appointment to fill a vacancy shall be for the unexpired term. No appointee shall serve more than two successive four-year terms but neither shall any person serve beyond the time he holds the office or organizational membership by reason of which he was initially eligible for appointment.

C. The Board annually shall elect its chairman and vice-chairman from among its membership and shall adopt rules of procedure.

D. All members shall be reimbursed for expenses incurred in the performance of their duties as provided in § 2.2-2825. Funding for the expenses shall be provided from the Fire Programs Fund established pursuant to § 38.2-401.

E. The Board shall meet no more than six times each calendar year. The Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security may call a special meeting of the Board should circumstances dictate. A majority of the current membership of the Board shall constitute a quorum for all purposes.

1981, c. 154, § 9-153.1; 1985, c. 448; 1986, c. 60; 1989, c. 258; 1992, c. 213; 2001, c. 844; 2002, c. 211; 2003, c. 836; 2006, c. 58; 2007, c. 96; 2011, cc. 691, 714; 2012, cc. 164, 456; 2014, cc. 31, 115, 490, 820; 2019, c. 208.

§ 9.1-203. Powers and duties of Virginia Fire Services Board; limitation.

A. The Board shall have the responsibility for promoting the coordination of the efforts of fire service organizations at the state and local levels. To these ends, it shall have the following powers and duties to:

1. Ensure the development and implementation of the Virginia Fire Prevention and Control Plan;

2. Review and approve a five-year statewide plan for fire education and training;

3. Approve the criteria for and disbursement of any grant funds received from the federal government and any agencies thereof and any other source and to disburse such funds in accordance therewith;

4. Provide technical assistance and advice to local fire departments, other fire services organizations, and local governments through Fire and Emergency Medical Services studies done in conjunction with the Department of Fire Programs;

5. Advise the Department of Fire Programs on and adopt personnel standards for fire services personnel;

6. Advise the Department of Fire Programs on the Commonwealth's statewide plan for the collection, analysis, and reporting of data relating to fires in the Commonwealth;

7. Make recommendations to the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security concerning legislation affecting fire prevention and protection and fire services organizations in Virginia;

8. Evaluate all fire prevention and protection programs and make any recommendations deemed necessary to improve the level of fire prevention and protection in the Commonwealth;

9. Advise the Department of Fire Programs on the Statewide Fire Prevention Code;

10. Investigate alternative means of financial support for volunteer fire departments and advise jurisdictions regarding the implementation of such alternatives; and

11. Develop a modular training program for volunteer firefighters for adoption by local volunteer fire departments that shall include (i) Fire Fighter I and Fire Fighter II certification pursuant to standards developed by the National Fire Protection Association and (ii) an online training program.

B. Except for those policies established in § 38.2-401, compliance with the provisions of § 9.1-201 and this section and any policies or guidelines enacted pursuant thereto shall be optional with, and at the full discretion of, any local governing body and any volunteer fire department or volunteer fire departments operating under the same corporate charters.

1978, c. 606, § 9-155; 1981, c. 154; 1984, c. 734; 1986, c. 60; 1988, c. 133; 1997, c. 791; 2001, c. 844; 2012, cc. 164, 456; 2014, cc. 115, 490; 2018, c. 403.

§ 9.1-203.1. Firefighter mental health awareness training.

A. Each fire department as defined in § 27-6.01 shall develop curricula for mental health awareness training for its personnel, which shall include training regarding the following:

1. Understanding signs and symptoms of cumulative stress, depression, anxiety, exposure to acute and chronic trauma, compulsive behaviors, and addiction;

2. Combating and overcoming stigmas;

3. Responding appropriately to aggressive behaviors such as domestic violence and harassment;

4. Accessing available mental health treatment and resources; and

5. Managing stress, self-care techniques, and resiliency.

B. Any fire department may develop the mental health awareness training curricula in conjunction with other fire departments or firefighter stakeholder groups or may use any training program, developed by any entity, that satisfies the criteria set forth in subsection A.

C. Firefighters who receive mental health awareness training in accordance with this section shall receive appropriate continuing education credits from the Department of Fire Programs and the Virginia Fire Services Board.

2018, cc. 456, 658; 2020, c. 1262.

§ 9.1-204. Fire service training facilities; allocation of funds therefor.

A. At the beginning of each fiscal year, the Department of Fire Programs, after approval by the Board, may allocate available funds to counties, cities, and towns within the Commonwealth for the purpose of assisting such counties, cities, towns and volunteer fire companies in the construction, improvement, or expansion of fire service training facilities.

B. Available funds shall be allocated at the discretion of the Board through the Executive Director of the Department of Fire Programs, based on the following:

1. The total amount of funds available for distribution;

2. Financial participation by counties, cities, towns, and volunteer fire companies, any such participation being optional on the part of the locality or the particular volunteer fire company; and

3. Anticipated use of such facilities by the Commonwealth, its subdivisions, or volunteer fire companies.

C. Such funds shall be distributed to the counties, cities, and towns pursuant to contracts prepared by the office of the Attorney General.

D. Allocations of such funds to volunteer fire companies shall not be contingent upon or conditioned in any way upon compliance with the provisions of § 9.1-201 or with any rules, regulations, or guidelines enacted pursuant to the provisions of § 9.1-201.

1981, c. 154, § 9-155.1; 2001, c. 844; 2012, cc. 164, 456.

§ 9.1-205. Thermal Imaging Camera Grant Fund established.

A. From only such funds as are appropriated from the general fund by the General Assembly for this purpose and from such gifts, donations, grants, bequests and other funds as may be received on its behalf, there is hereby created in the state treasury a special nonreverting fund to be known as the Virginia Thermal Imaging Camera Grant Fund, hereinafter referred to as the "VTIC Fund." No moneys from the Fire Programs Fund established pursuant to § 38.2-401 may be used or expended for the VTIC Fund. The VTIC Fund is established to assist the localities of the Commonwealth providing fire service operations in purchasing thermal imaging cameras and equipment associated with the use of thermal imaging cameras. The VTIC Fund shall be administered by the Department of Fire Programs and established on the books of the Comptroller. Any moneys remaining in the VTIC Fund at the end of each fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the VTIC Fund. Moneys in the VTIC Fund shall not be diverted or expended for any purpose not authorized by this section. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, policies established by the Virginia Fire Services Board, and any grants provided from the VTIC Fund, that are not inconsistent with the purposes set out in this section shall be binding upon any locality that accepts such funds or related grants. Expenditures for administration of and disbursements from the VTIC Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants issued by the Comptroller upon written request signed by the Executive Director of the Department of Fire Programs or his designee.

B. When, and only if, funds are available in the VTIC Fund, a Virginia Thermal Imaging Camera Advisory Panel (the Panel) shall be convened to make recommendations to the Department of Fire Programs for the use of the VTIC Fund. The Panel shall consist of eleven members as follows: three members from the State Fire Chief's Association, three members from the Virginia Professional Firefighters Association and three members from the Virginia State Firefighters Association, appointed by the Fire Services Board from a list of names submitted by each such organization. At least two members shall be appointed from each of the fire program areas established by the Department of Fire Programs. The Panel shall be selected annually only if moneys are available in the VTIC Fund and shall report directly to the Executive Director of the Department of Fire Programs. The Panel shall not have any responsibility or authority over any other matters not specified in this section. Members of the Panel shall not receive compensation, but shall be reimbursed for their reasonable and necessary expenses in the discharge of their duties.

2002, c. 721.

§ 9.1-206. State Fire Marshal; qualifications; powers and duties; power to arrest, to procure and serve warrants and to issue summonses; limitation on authority.

The Executive Director of Fire Programs shall employ a State Fire Marshal and other personnel necessary to carry out the provisions of the Statewide Fire Prevention Code (§ 27-94 et seq.). The State Fire Marshal and other personnel employed pursuant to this section shall be selected upon the basis of education or experience in administering laws and regulations designed to prevent and eliminate hazards to life and property arising from fire.

The State Fire Marshal shall have the powers and duties prescribed by the Statewide Fire Prevention Code (§ 27-94 et seq.), by § 27-61, by Board regulation and by the Director. The State Fire Marshal and those persons duly authorized to enforce the Statewide Fire Prevention Code shall have the authority to arrest, to procure and serve warrants of arrests and to issue summonses in the manner authorized by general law for violation of the Statewide Fire Prevention Code. The authority granted in this section shall not be construed to authorize the State Fire Marshal to wear or carry firearms. All personnel employed pursuant to this section shall meet the training requirements set forth for local fire marshals in § 27-34.2.

2007, cc. 647, 741.

§ 9.1-207. Inspection of certain state-owned, state-operated, or state-licensed facilities; enforcement of safety standards.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the State Fire Marshal, upon presenting appropriate credentials, shall make annual inspections for hazards incident to fire in all (i) residential care facilities operated by any state agency, (ii) assisted living facilities licensed or subject to licensure pursuant to Chapter 18 (§ 63.2-1800 et seq.) of Title 63.2 that are not inspected by the local fire marshal, (iii) student residence facilities owned or operated by a public institution of higher education, and (iv) public schools that are not inspected by the local fire marshal. In the event that any such facility or residence is found to be nonconforming to the Statewide Fire Prevention Code, the State Fire Marshal or local fire marshal may petition any court of competent jurisdiction for the issuance of an injunction.

2007, cc. 647, 741.

§ 9.1-207.1. Firefighting foam management.

A. For purposes of this section, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Class B firefighting foam" means a foam designed for flammable liquid fires.

"Local government" includes any locality, fire district, regional fire protection authority, or other special purpose district that provides firefighting services.

"PFAS chemicals" means, for the purposes of firefighting agents, a class of fluorinated organic chemicals containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom and designed to be fully functional in class B firefighting foam formulations, including perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

"Testing" includes calibration testing, conformance testing, and fixed system testing.

B. Beginning July 1, 2021, no person, local government, or agency of the Commonwealth shall discharge or otherwise use class B firefighting foam that contains intentionally added PFAS chemicals (i) for testing purposes, unless otherwise required by law or by the agency having jurisdiction over the testing facility, and with the condition that the testing facility has implemented appropriate containment, treatment, and disposal measures to prevent uncontrolled releases of foam to the environment or (ii) for training purposes, where such foam shall be replaced by nonfluorinated training foams.

C. No provision of this section shall restrict (i) the manufacture, sale, or distribution of class B firefighting foam that contains intentionally added PFAS chemicals or (ii) the discharge or other use of such foams in emergency firefighting or fire prevention operations.

2019, c. 838.

§ 9.1-207.2. Prohibition on use of certain oriented strand board.

A. As used in this section:

"Acquired structure" means a building or structure acquired by local government from a property owner for the purpose of conducting live fire training evolutions.

"Class A fuel materials" includes wood, straw, and paper products.

"Fire training activities" includes the utilization of live fire training structures designed for conducting live fire training evolutions on a repetitive basis. "Fire training activities" does not include the utilization of acquired structures for conducting live fire training evolutions.

"Local government" includes any locality, fire district, regional fire protection authority, or other special purpose district that provides firefighting services.

"Oriented strand board" means a multilayered board made from strands of wood, together with a binder, by the application of heat and pressure, with the strands in the external layer primarily oriented along the panel's strength axis in accordance with US Product Standard 2-18, Performance Standard for Wood Structured Panels. For purposes of this section only, "oriented strand board" means a wood structural panel intended as a covering material for roofs, subfloors, and walls when fastened to supports.

B. No person, local government, or agency of the Commonwealth shall burn Class A fuel materials that contain oriented strand board during live fire training activities.

C. No provision of this section shall restrict the manufacture, sale, use, or distribution of Class A fuel materials that contain oriented strand board for purposes outside of fire training activities.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 285.

§ 9.1-208. Agreements between Department and other agencies.

The Department is hereby authorized to enter into agreements with federal agencies, other state agencies, and political subdivisions for services related to enforcement and administration of laws, rules, or regulations or ordinances of such agencies affecting fire safety in public buildings.

2007, cc. 647, 741.

§ 9.1-208.1. Volunteer Fire Department Training Fund.

There is hereby created in the state treasury a special nonreverting fund to be known as the Volunteer Fire Department Training Fund, referred to in this section as "the Fund." The Fund shall be established on the books of the Comptroller. All funds appropriated for such purpose and any gifts, donations, grants, bequests, and other funds received on its behalf shall be paid into the state treasury and credited to the Fund. Interest earned on moneys in the Fund shall remain in the Fund and be credited to it. Any moneys remaining in the Fund, including interest thereon, at the end of each fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund but shall remain in the Fund. Moneys in the Fund shall be used solely for the purposes of assisting or reimbursing volunteer fire departments or volunteer fire companies with the costs of training and certifying volunteer firefighters. Expenditures and disbursements from the Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer on warrants issued by the Comptroller upon written request signed by the Executive Director of the Department of Fire Programs.

2022, c. 765.