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Under current law, a county fire marshal can inspect structures for fire hazards and issue orders for corrections of such hazards. Failure to comply with an order is a Class B misdemeanor. HB 1654 would make failure to comply a Class C misdemeanor, but still a Class B misdemeanor if failure to comply results in a certain amount of property damage or causes harm to an individual.
HB 1654 would also permit a county commissioners court to grant authority to a county employee to issue citations in the unincorporated area of a county as long as they are also a certified fire inspector or otherwise conduct fire and life safety inspections. If a person fails to appear in court after receiving a citation, the court may issue a warrant for that individual’s arrest.
We support the provision in this bill which changes failure to comply with a fire marshal's order a Class C rather than Class B misdemeanor. However, this bill infringes on the principle of limited government by permitting the authorization of certain county employees to issue criminally binding citations. Should an amendment be adopted removing this provision we would support the bill.