New Commission Tasked with Working to Prevent Tragedies like the 2014 Beacon Street Fire

November 4, 2016
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Gov. Charlie Baker recently signed H.4455, An Act creating a special commission studying cutting, welding and hot work processes regulated by the State Fire Code, to prevent the loss of life resulting from tragedies such as the deadly nine-alarm brownstone fire on Beacon Street in March 2014. That fire, caused by welding on the building next door, put residents lives at risks and took the lives of two Boston firefighters, Lieutenant Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy.

“Lieutenant Walsh and Firefighter Kennedy faced an enormously complex situation when they bravely entered the brownstone to fight the fire that tragically took their lives,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am proud to sign this bill into law to set in place appropriate regulations and licensing requirements for the safety of the public and our first responders.”

Under the new law, a special commission will be charged to investigate and study the current requirements for any licensing or permits governing cutting, welding, and other hot work processes that are capable of initiating fires or explosions to determine if the industry is adequately regulated to protect the public. The commission will study the use of supervised details and fire watches, adequacy of fees for inspection and oversight, the deterrent effect of penalties for violations of rules and regulations, along with potential cost recovery and assessment for damages resulting from failure to comply with rules and regulations.

“Boston will forever remember the heroic acts of Lieutenant Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy, and I am hopeful that recommendations from this commission will help us prevent future tragedies,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. I thank Senator Donnelly and Representative Collins for their partnership on this legislation and the Governor for signing it into law.”

The 11-member commission will include legislators, public safety professionals, and individuals in related construction trades. It will consist of two members of the Senate, two members of the House, the State Fire Marshal, the Commissioner of the Fire Department of the City of Boston and five members appointed by the Governor, with each appointee required to possess certain professional qualifications.

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