Title 23
Health and Safety

Chapter 28.3
Fire Safety Code Board of Appeal and Review

R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-28.3-5

§ 23-28.3-5. Assistance to building owners — Petition for variations.

(a) Any building owner, and/or the operator of any regulated process or hazardous activity, may consult with the authority having jurisdiction for advice and assistance in complying with the provisions of the fire safety code adopted pursuant to chapters 28.1 — 28.39 and chapter 29.1 of this title, or any amendments to those codes or any codes adopted under them. In case of practical difficulties, the authority having jurisdiction shall refer all requests for variations from particular provisions of the fire safety code adopted pursuant to chapters 28.1 — 28.39 of this title or any code adopted under them to the fire safety code board. All requests for variations from the particular provisions of the fire safety code adopted pursuant to chapter 29.1 of this title shall be referred to the joint committee pursuant to the provisions of § 23-29.1-4. The petitioner shall set forth in his or her petition to the board the grounds or reasons for requesting the variations.

(b) The board shall fix a day for hearing on the petition and shall give reasonable notice of the hearing to the petitioner and the property owners within two hundred feet (200′) of the petitioner’s building or structure when, in the board’s discretion, it may have an adverse effect on neighboring properties. A properly indexed record of all variations made shall be kept in the office of the state fire marshal and shall be open to public inspection. Any building owner may file a petition for a variance to the board by registered mail, and a hearing date shall be set by the board within thirty (30) days of filing a completed application including a filing fee, established in accordance with the following fee schedule:

(1) Petitions related to existing covered occupancies, not involving construction, alteration, and/or renovation . . . $100 filing fee.

(2) Petitions related to construction, alteration, renovation, and/or conversion or other buildings and structures:

(i) not more than 8,000 square feet . . . $100 filing fee

(ii) more than 8,000 square feet but not more than 25,000 square feet . . . $300 filing fee

(iii) more than 25,000 square feet but not more than 50,000 square feet . . . $500 filing fee

(iv) more than 50,000 square feet . . . $1,000 filing fee

(3) Petitions related to maintenance or use of buildings or materials and any petition not otherwise provided for above . . . $100 filing fee.

(4) The term “square feet”, as used in this chapter, is the total floor space and/or storage capacity of the subject building or structure, as determined and certified by the state fire marshal or his or her designee, subject to review by the board. The board chairperson may delegate a subcommittee of the board to conduct a hearing and take testimony from the petitioner. The subcommittee shall make recommendations to the board as to their findings, and a decision shall be rendered within ten (10) days of the subcommittee’s report. If the petitioner is aggrieved by the subcommittee’s recommendations, the petitioner has the right of hearing before the entire board within thirty (30) days of the rendered decision.

(c) The application filing fee income shall be deposited as general revenue.

(d)(1) The fire safety code board may grant a blanket variance when, in the opinion of the fire safety code board, any specific provision of the fire safety code has been rendered obsolete and/or imposes an unanticipated, unreasonable hardship upon the general public, and the board finds that the decision to grant a blanket variance will not conflict with the general objectives of the code. All blanket variances shall only be effective until the next code adoption process by the board.

(2) In order to provide for the reasonable and orderly implementation of the fire safety code effective on January 1, 2004, the fire safety code board of appeal and review may, by variance and/or blanket variance, affirm and reestablish any variances, blanket variances, and timetables for compliance as were in effect on December 31, 2003.

(e) Any person who violates a final order of the Board, upon proper written notification, is deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, is imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year, or fined not more than one thousand dollars ($1000) for each offense. The district court shall have full equity power to hear and address these matters.

History of Section.
P.L. 1966, ch. 216, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 23-28.3-6; P.L. 1975, ch. 165, § 19; P.L. 1978, ch. 47, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 133, art. 38, § 1; P.L. 1993, ch. 138, art. 51, § 1; P.L. 1995, ch. 370, art. 40, § 79; P.L. 2000, ch. 185, § 4; P.L. 2000, ch. 290, § 4; P.L. 2003, ch. 106, § 6; P.L. 2003, ch. 107, § 6; P.L. 2004, ch. 220, § 4; P.L. 2004, ch. 225, § 4; P.L. 2005, ch. 151, § 5; P.L. 2005, ch. 155, § 5.