Updated fire code proposed

A revamp of the county fire code is in the works, with Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz proposing updates in both the requirements and permit fees to prepare the county for compliance with the latest state requirements.

“When firefighters respond to calls to combat a fire, every minute, every second counts,” Kierkiewicz said. “The proposed changes are designed to keep buildings and people safe, while helping our fire fighters do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.”


Bill 221, scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the council’s Committee on Public Works and Mass Transit, sets the framework for future fire code updates by creating a chapter in the county code devoted to fire and moving pertinent clauses into it from the building and plumbing codes.

But the bill involves more than simple housekeeping.

There is a proposed plan review fee of 15% of the permit fee. The turnaround time by the Fire Department is relatively quick, Kierkiewicz said. The department strives to get a review done within 14 days, but most often get it done sooner. Fire sprinkler and fire alarm system reviews take a couple of weeks as these are very technical.

“This is a reasonable request,” she said.

Permit fees for a variety of activities would double or more under the proposed law. The fees have not been increased since 2006, she said.

For example, the fee for a carnival or fair would increase from $100 to $200; farmers markets, flea markets and open markets would go up from $25 biannually to $100; installation or removal of flammable and combustible liquids tanks of greater than 60 gallons would increase from $50 to $200; places of assembly permits for assemblies of 300 occupants or greater would increase from $50 to $200 annually, and permits for tents and temporary structures of more than 700 square feet, for Christmas trees and fireworks for example, would go from $25 to $50.

In addition, certificates of fitness are now required. This means the individual who is installing, maintaining and testing systems is credentialed by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies, demonstrating they are capable and qualified to carry out the work.

The committee meets at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center. The public can participate there, or by interactive video technology from the Hilo council chambers, the Pahoa and Waimea council offices, or via Zoom by registering in advance.

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