Commentary: County fire codes not the answer

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The Texas Fire Marshall issued his department report on what went wrong in controlling the fire and resulting explosion at the West, Texas, fertilizer facility, and that report is the basis for a Texas Senate committee debating the introduction of legislation to allow counties with population less than 250,000 to pass their own fire codes.

Currently, Texas counties with population above 250,000 can have fire codes, but smaller population counties are barred from passing fire codes.

New fire codes might sound good, but a patchwork of different county fire codes and regulations on storage of fertilizers, whether the fertilizer has explosive potential or not, is not a good idea. There needs to be national standards and national first responder training programs related to industrial fires. And requiring sprinklers in every fertilizer warehouse in rural Texas isn’t a thoughtful solution either.  

So many businessmen hate the intrusion of big government into local situations, but patchwork regulations—some of which will have no basis in reality—isn’t the answer. This is the same as allowing individual counties across the U.S. to ban genetically modified (GM) crop production on the whim of local activists who want to protect the environment and health of their children—all of which has no basis for law enforcement. And it's like allowing individual states to require GMO labeling of foods instead of having a national standard.

An article appearing on, has a report written by J.B. Smith, explaining the fire marshal’s stand and the county fire code situation in Texas. Click here to read the entire article.     




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