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§29-3A-1. Authority of fire officers in charge of fire, service call or other emergency; definition.

(a) While any fire department recognized or approved by the West Virginia State Fire Commission is responding to, operating at or returning from a fire, fire hazard, service call or other emergency, the fire chief, any other elected or appointed fire line officer or any member serving in the capacity of appointed fire line officer in charge, except on industrial property where trained industrial firefighting personnel are present, shall have the authority:

(1) To control and direct firefighting and fire control activities at such scene;

(2) To order any person or persons to leave any building or place in the vicinity of such scene for the purpose of protecting such persons from injury;

(3) To blockade any public highway, street or private right-of-way temporarily while at such scene in accordance with the following provisions:

(A) If the emergency incident occurs on a public highway and it is reasonably expected that the highway may be closed for a period of at least two hours or upon the request of the incident commander acting in accordance with the provisions of the National Incident Management System in effect as of December 31, 2008, the Secretary of Transportation or his or her designee(s) shall be notified of the incident as soon as possible;

(B) The Secretary of Transportation or his or her designee(s) shall respond to the notification of the incident in order to assist with the restoration of traffic flow or with the development and implementation of a traffic diversion plan;

(C) All authorized persons who respond to the scene of the emergency incident and all of their available resources will become part of the incident command system;

(D) All of those persons are to collaborate and cooperate with the incident commander and appropriate law-enforcement personnel at the emergency incident scene in order to restore traffic flow as soon as possible after the scene is deemed safe by the incident commander; and

(E) Once the incident commander has declared the emergency incident scene to be safe, the control of the traffic at the emergency incident scene will be transferred to the Department of Transportation or the appropriate law-enforcement agency;

(4) To enter the building, structure, enclosure or other property of any person or persons at any time of the day or night, without liability, while operating at such scene;

(5) To enter any building, including private dwellings, or upon any premises where an emergency exists, or where there is reasonable cause to believe an emergency exists, for the purpose of eliminating the emergency;

(6) To enter any building, including private dwellings, or premises near the scene of the emergency for the purpose of protecting the building or premises or for the purpose of eliminating the emergency which is in progress in another building or premises;

(7) To inspect for preplanning all buildings, structures or other places in their fire district, excepting, however, the interior of a private dwelling, with the consent of the owner or occupant, where any combustible materials, including waste paper, rags, shavings, waste, leather, rubber, crates, boxes, barrels, rubbish or other combustible material that is or may become dangerous as a fire menace to such building or buildings, structure or other places has been allowed to accumulate or where such chief or his or her designated representative has reason to believe that such material of a combustible nature has accumulated or is liable to be accumulated;

(8) To direct the removal, use or destruction of any fence, house, motor vehicle or other thing which may reasonably be determined to be necessary to be pulled down, destroyed or removed to prevent the further spread of the fire or hazardous condition;

(9) To request and be supplied with additional materials such as sand, treatments, chemicals, etc., and special equipment when dealing with an accident on a public highway or railroad right-of-way when it is deemed a necessity to prevent the further spread of the fire or hazardous condition, the cost of which to be borne by the owner of the instrumentality which caused the fire or hazardous condition; and

(10) To order disengagement or discouplement of any convoy, caravan or train of vehicles, craft or railway cars if deemed a necessity in the interest of safety of persons or property.

(b) As used in this article, the term "emergency" means a situation in which the fire officer in charge knows or in which a reasonable person would believe that there exists an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death to a person or significant damage to property.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2017 Regular Session
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