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March 14, 2000
S. Printed 3/14/00--S.
Read the first time April 15, 1999.
To whom was referred a Bill (S. 735), to amend Title 40 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to professions and occupations, by adding Chapter 100 so as to require registration of firefighters, etc., respectfully
That they have duly and carefully considered the same, and recommend that the same do pass with amendment:
Amend the bill, as and if amended, Section 40-100-10, page 1, by deleting lines 38-39.
Amend further, Section 40-100-20(C), page 2, by deleting line 12 and inserting:
/in a confidential manner./
Amend further, Section 40-100-20(D), page 2, by deleting lines 14-15 and inserting:
/his or her file./
Amend further, Section 40-100-30(A), page 2, by deleting line 19 and inserting:
/2000, with a public fire department, organization, or employer of a/
Amend further, Section 40-100-40(B), page 2, by deleting line 39 and inserting:
/records check conducted by a law enforcement agency. The cost of the criminal records check may not exceed five dollars. No person/
Amend further, Section 40-100-40(C), page 3, by deleting line 2 and inserting:
/firefighter employed on or before July 1, 2000./
Amend further, page 3, by deleting lines 11-43 and page 4 by deleting lines 1-35 and inserting:
/ Section 40-100-50. (A) Each fire department or other employer shall notify the Office of the State Fire Marshal at any time that a firefighter is separated from employment or membership.
(B) Notification shall be made within five working days after separation, except in an emergency situation, in which case the notification shall be made within ten working days./
Renumber sections to conform.
Amend title to conform.
J. VERNE SMITH, for Committee.
FIRST YEAR GENERAL FUNDS: $30,697
FIRST YEAR FEDERAL AND/OR OTHER FUNDS: $0
ANNUAL TOTAL THEREAFTER: $16,677
EXPLANATION OF IMPACT:
Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations
The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations has determined that Senate Bill 735 could impact the General Fund of the State, however, the legislation does not specify how the requirements of the Bill would be funded. Currently, the State Fire Marshal's Office is funded by revenues generated from inspection fees and insurance premium taxes.
The department estimates that implementation would require annual expenditures totaling $16,677. Costs include $6,577 for personal service and fringe benefits, 0.25 FTE, and operating expenses of $10,100. Nonrecurring funding to cover the costs of computer equipment and software development totaling $14,020 would also be required. This cost includes $11,520 for other personal service and operating expenses of $2,500.
Administrative Law Judges
The Administrative Law Judges Division has determined that the proposed legislation may need clarification as to whether their agency would be hearing contested cases (evidentiary hearings) on these matters or just review appeals from hearings conducted by the State Fire Marshal. Since statistical data on the number of cases this proposed legislation might generate does not exist, the Administrative Law Judges Division assumes that initially they will be able to absorb the costs associated with the cases within their current budget appropriation. Should the legislation require the Administrative Law Judges to hear the evidentiary cases, of which there are more of and are more complex in nature, then the agency would need to ask for additional appropriations to handle the additional work.
Office of State Budget
TO AMEND TITLE 40 OF THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO PROFESSIONS AND OCCUPATIONS, BY ADDING CHAPTER 100 SO AS TO REQUIRE REGISTRATION OF FIREFIGTERS WITH THE OFFICE OF THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Title 40 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 40-100-10. For purposes of this chapter:
(1) `Employer' includes all fire departments or other entities which put individual firefighters to service or work or assign any firefighter to official duties, whether or not the firefighter receives financial compensation.
(2) `Fire chief' means the highest ranking officer or official in charge of a fire department, whether or not called by some other title.
(3) `Fire department' means any organization providing rescue, fire suppression, and related activities, including any public or governmental organization engaged in this type of activity.
(4) `Firefighter' includes any person, male or female, paid or unpaid, who engages in rescue, fire suppression, or related activities, under the supervision of a fire chief or fire department.
(5) `Administrative Procedures Act' means Article 3, Chapter 23, Title 1.
Section 40-100-20. (A) No later than ten working days before the date of his employment as a paid or volunteer firefighter, each firefighter shall be registered with the Office of the State Fire Marshal by their fire chief or other employer.
(B) The Office of the State Fire Marshal shall maintain a file on each registered firefighter in the State, including all information required to be kept by this chapter, and shall assign to each registered firefighter a firefighter identification number which corresponds to the firefighter's social security number.
(C) The information in the file of an individual firefighter may be released in its entirety to a potential fire department or other employer and may be used as a basis for employment. The requesting department or employer shall maintain this information by a confidential manner.
(D) Any registered firefighter may at any time request a copy of his or her file. The Office of the State Fire Marshal may charge a reasonable fee for researching and copying.
Section 40-100-30. (A) No person shall be allowed to perform firefighting duties in the State of South Carolina on or after July 1, 1999, with a public fire department, organization, or employer of a county, municipality, special purpose district, or other political subdivision, without first being registered as provided in Section 40-100-20.
(B) A firefighter employed by the United States Government and working in his official capacity is not required to be registered.
Section 40-100-40. (A) Upon recommendation of a fire chief or other employer, the Office of the State Fire Marshal shall register each firefighter subject to the provisions of Sections 40-100-20 and 40-100-30. The Office of the State Fire Marshal shall maintain as minimum information on each firefighter the complete name, the date of birth, the social security number, the South Carolina driver's license number, the department, and the date of employment or membership. The Office of the State Fire Marshal shall notify the chief of the employing department or other employer in writing of the registration.
(B) Prior to the initial recommendation for registration and employment of a firefighter, the fire chief or other employer shall ensure that each prospective firefighter undergoes a criminal records check conducted by a law enforcement agency. No person shall be eligible for registration as a firefighter if, within ten years prior to the date of application, he or she has been convicted of a felony or arson related crime.
(C) No criminal records check shall be required for any firefighter employed on or before July 1, 1999.
(D) A firefighter who works for or serves with more than one department or employer shall be registered by each department.
(E) A firefighter previously registered with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, but not actively engaged with a fire department or as a firefighter for a period of six months, shall be required to apply for reregistration and to submit a criminal record check as required by subsection (B).
Section 40-100-50. Upon recommendation of the employing fire chief or other employer, the Office of the State Fire Marshal shall withdraw registration of a firefighter who:
(1) within the last ten years is convicted of, pleads guilty to, pleads no contest, or otherwise admits guilty (regardless of the adjudication) to a felony, arson related crime, or any other crime punishable by a sentence of more than one year (regardless of the sentence actually imposed, if any); or
(2) within the last ten years is convicted of, pleads nolo contest, or otherwise admits guilty (regardless of the nature of the adjudication) to unlawful use of a controlled substance.
Section 40-100-60. (A) Each fire department or other employer shall notify the Office of the State Fire Marshal at any time that a firefighter is separated from employment or membership.
(B) Notification shall be made within five working days after separation, except in an emergency situation, in which case the notification shall be made within ten working days.
Section 40-100-70. (A) At least ten days prior to the withdrawal of a firefighter registration, the Office of the State Fire Marshal shall notify the firefighter of the reason and the proposed action.
(B) The notice of withdrawal shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the firefighter at the current address maintained in the registration file and to the fire chief of all departments or organizations by which the firefighter is employed or other employer of the firefighter.
(C) The firefighter may request administrative review of the decision by written notice filed with the Office of the State Fire Marshal no later than ten working days after receipt of the notice. If a request for review is made to the State Fire Marshal, a final determination must be made after an opportunity for a hearing pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act. The sole issue upon review is the action of withdrawal of firefighter registration. Evidence of personnel actions or termination of employment shall not be admitted.
Section 40-100-80. (A) Any person or department or organization who violates the provisions of this chapter must be given a written warning by the Office of the State Fire Marshal for the first offense and must be assessed a civil penalty of not more than two hundred fifty dollars for each subsequent offense.
(B) Any person assessed a civil penalty may request a review of that assessment within thirty days of the service of the notice of penalty. If a request for review is made to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, a final determination must be made after an opportunity for a hearing pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.
Section 40-100-90. (A) The appeal of the denial or withdrawal of registration or the imposition of a civil penalty shall be reviewed in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act.
(B) If the Office of the State Fire Marshal denies or withdraws registration of a firefighter, he must notify the firefighter in writing that:
(1) he has the right to a hearing; and
(2) he may request a hearing by responding in writing to the Office of the State Fire Marshal within thirty days.
(C) The Office of the State Fire Marshal shall transfer all requests for hearings to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
(D) All hearings shall be handled by an Administrative Law Division Judge.
(E) At the bottom of any letter, correspondence, or form of denial or withdrawal of registration, the Office of the State Fire Marshal must include a notification that the affected person is entitled to a hearing in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act and must request a hearing within thirty days."
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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