The primary function of the fire marshal is protection of lives and property, and the best way to do this is through fire prevention. The fire marshal operates under the supervision of the Fire Chief, and can carry out functions that include, but not limited to, fire prevention inspections, code enforcement, building plans review, fire investigation, and public fire safety education.
Educating the Owner/Occupant
The fire marshal will try to educate the property owner or occupant to bring about voluntary compliance with the code. It is important to remember that many of the items contained in the code came about due to single fires that killed many people or destroyed a large amount of property. These were lessons that were hard learned, and they should not be repeated. If voluntary compliance cannot be obtained, the fire marshal or inspector will start administrative actions to bring about enforcement of the code, and if that fails legal action is taken in Bay County Circuit Court.
Fire Prevention Inspection
The goal of a fire prevention inspection is to protect lives and property from the effects of fire by discovering and correcting deficiencies defined by code or in the law. The fire marshal or fire inspector addresses four specific areas in an effort to protect the building and its occupants. The first area is preventing fires from starting. The second area is once a fire has started what precautions can be taken to prevent the fire from spreading. The third area addresses insuring that the building's occupants can safely escape from the building in an emergency. The final area includes insuring fire protection systems and equipment, such as alarms and sprinklers are installed and operating correctly. All these factors are addressed in the City of Bay City Fire Code, local ordinances, or state law and provide the fire inspectors their legal basis for action.
Review of Building Plans
The review of building plans allows the fire marshal to ensure that all new buildings meet the fire code before they are built. It's far more cost effective to detect a fire code problem before the building is built than to have it changed after the building is completed. In the past the Building Department approved the construction of buildings based on the building code, and the fire marshal had to try to enforce the fire code after the fact. The current system ensures fire safety, and is more cost effective to the building owner.