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Public Accountability Report Public Accountability Report

Office of the State Fire Marshal
(Appropriated Spending in Thousands)
  FY 2020 FY 2019
Reporting Programs Expenditures Headcount Expenditures Headcount
Petroleum and Chemical Safety $ 4,851.8 25.0 $ 3,829.8 25.0
Fire Prevention $ 4,327.5 23.0 $ 4,447.2 24.0
Arson $ 3,763.1 20.0 $ 2,964.8 16.0
Boiler and Pressure Vessel Safety $ 3,763.1 20.0 $ 3,706.0 20.0
Personnel Standards and Education $ 2,225.8 11.5 $ 1,953.0 10.0
Elevator Safety $ 1,881.5 10.0 $ 1,667.7 9.0
Technical Services $ 564.5 3.0 $ 555.9 3.0
Non-Reporting Programs
Grants and Lump Sum Programs  $ 12,097.7 N/A $ 7,441.0 N/A
General Services  $ 5,387.1 28.0 $ 3,807.0 27.0
Back Wages  $ 0.0 N/A $ 1,096.1 N/A
Totals $ 38,862.1 140.5 $ 31,468.5 134.0

Totals may not add due to rounding.

Agency Narrative

The Office, as authorized by the State Fire Marshal Act (20 ILCS 2905), is dedicated to working with its partners and providing assistance to the fire service in the protection of life, property and the environment through communication, inspection, investigation, certification and licensing.

The Arson Division provides cause and origin determination, investigation and law enforcement services for suspected arson cases throughout the state.  The Office is responsible for investigating suspicious fires and explosions throughout the State of Illinois. Nationally, arson (and suspected arson) is the primary cause of property damage due to fire in the United States and the second leading cause of fire deaths.  To combat this serious problem, certified investigators respond to assist fire departments, communities, state and federal agencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Arson Special Agents are sworn peace officers authorized to interview witnesses, collect evidence, make arrests, and appear in court.  Also available are accelerant detecting canine teams.  Canines can detect minute traces of accelerants often used in fires and can lead investigators to a specific location where physical samples can be taken, analyzed, and confirmed by special laboratories.

The Boiler and Pressure Vessel Safety Division provides inspection, certification and licensing of boiler and pressure vessels and related industries.  State Boiler Safety Specialists, as well as inspectors hired by private insurance companies, conduct in-service inspections of boilers and pressure vessels in schools, hospitals, churches, factories, day care centers, restaurants, dormitories, libraries, municipal buildings, refineries, chemical plants, prisons, and other facilities which operate boilers and pressure vessels.  The Office also commissions boiler inspectors in the state, issues permits for all repairs conducted on boilers and pressure vessels, and licenses boiler and pressure vessel repair firms.

The Elevator Safety Division provides monitoring of third-party inspection companies and municipalities with state agreements, provides certification and registration of conveyances, as well as licensing of mechanics, apprentices, inspection companies, elevator contractors and related industries, investigates accidents and reviews plans for permits and variances.  The Division assures that conveyances are correctly and safely installed and operated within the State of Illinois outside the City of Chicago by regulating the design, installation, construction, operation, inspection, testing, maintenance, alteration, and repair of elevators, dumbwaiters, escalators, moving sidewalks, platform lifts, stairway lifts, and automated people movers in accordance with all applicable statutes and rules.  The Office currently has 179 agreements with municipalities to operate the program on behalf of the state in their municipalities.

The Fire Prevention Division provides inspections of structures to ensure fire safety codes are being properly followed and enforced, as well as licensing and oversight activities over the following industries: fire equipment distributors, sprinkler contractors, pyrotechnic distributors and operators and operators of mobile or above-ground liquid petroleum gas tanks.  The Office conducts inspections of buildings for compliance with the Life Safety Code. These inspections primarily concentrate on state-owned or regulated facilities including day care centers and group day care homes licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services, the Illinois Department of Aging, Correctional Centers, public schools (in cooperation with the Illinois State Board of Education), race tracks regulated by the Illinois Racing Board, permanently moored gaming facilities regulated by the Illinois Gaming Board, and telecommunications switching offices.  The Office ensures compliance with regulations pertaining to LP-gas tanks and inspection of aboveground bulk and dispensing tank installations of flammable and combustible liquids.  The Office also inspects certain “target” hazards, including the inspection of hotel/motel occupancies, and any occupancy where a fire hazard has been reported by the local fire authority or the general public.  In addition to conducting inspections, the Office is also responsible for enforcing the Fire Equipment Distributor and Employee Regulation Act (225 ILCS 217), Fire Sprinkler Contractor Licensing Act (225 ILCS 317), and the Fireworks Use Act (425 ILCS 35) and Pyrotechnic Operator and Distributor Licensing Act (425 ILCS 35).  

The Petroleum and Chemical Safety Division provides inspection, investigation and licensing of underground storage tanks and contractors, permitting and inspection of installation, upgrade, repair and removal of underground storage tanks and piping and responds to emergencies that involve hazardous regulated products stored in underground storage tanks.  The Office is responsible for protecting against threats to human safety and contamination of the environment that can occur from underground storage of petroleum products and other hazardous substances through prevention, education, and enforcement.  The Office works under a comprehensive program combining federal and state laws and rules to regulate UST system management, fuel dispensing, UST installation, repair and removal, emergency response, and financial responsibility requirements. Additionally, the Office administers the state Eligibility and Deductibility (E&D) program, which is the first step for UST owners to follow when they have had a release or contamination incident and they wish to access the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Fund (LUST Fund), as well as oversees the Financial Responsibility program, which requires UST facility owners to have pollution liability policies in case of environmental or third party property and personal injury damages caused by product releases from USTs. 

The Personnel Standards and Education Division provides written examinations and certifications to firefighters throughout the state, as well as provides reimbursement to fire departments for training costs.  The Office is responsible for overseeing the voluntary firefighter certification program for firefighters in the state. The Office ensures the standardization and enhancement in the levels of education and training for firefighters and professionals in Illinois with the highest priorities placed on safety and career advancement. The Office operates under the mandate of the Illinois Fire Protection Training Act (50 ILCS 740), which provides for the promotion of standards to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.

The Technical Services Section provides technical and engineering services, interprets codes and provides training to Office personnel.  The Office provides the fire service and general public with technical and engineering expertise in the form of code interpretation and plan and application review.  The Office reviews plans and applications submitted for installation or modification of Aboveground flammable and combustible liquid storage tanks and Liquefied petroleum gas tanks, reviews architectural and engineering drawings of new construction, renovations, and additions for compliance with state codes, analyzes Fire Safety Evaluation Systems (FSES) which offer owners alternative methods for proving equivalent life safety in nonconforming structures, and analyzes submitted Prison Fire Safety Plans for Illinois Correctional and Transitional facilities.  The Office also delivers training to agency staff and local fire department personnel to familiarize them with applicable codes and changing technologies to ensure consistency in code enforcement across the state.

The Office also provides assistance to the Illinois fire service in the form of grants and loans.

Some of the accomplishments of the Office over the past year have included:

  1. Adoption of the State Fire Code - In September 2019, we were successful in our agency’s long running regulatory efforts to adopt an updated State Fire Code. The previous code was adopted in 2002 and incorporated the 2000 edition of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety Code (LSC), which had become out of step with current building and engineering standards.  Several attempts to update the code by previous administrations were stymied by an inability to achieve consensus from legislators and other stakeholders.  We worked collaboratively with legislators, industry stakeholders and the Illinois Fire Service to gain their support in incorporating the 2015 edition of the Life Safety Code.  By December 2019, we provided free transition training for 133 local authorities with the assistance of NFPA representatives and we will provide additional training when circumstances allow.
  2. Increased financial support for the Illinois fire service - We increased our financial support to Illinois Fire Departments to assist them in providing the highest possible quality fire protection to their communities.  Through the fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2021 budgets, we were able to maintain our previous funding levels and also fund new initiatives including: small equipment grants; training software that will be available to every department in the state; additional training reimbursement funding; community risk reduction training; firefighter resiliency/suicide prevention; firefighter decontamination/cancer mitigation education and equipment; an innovative blended learning Basic Operations Firefighter Certification curriculum and temporary lodging assistance for volunteer firefighters who are unable to attend the traditional State Fire Academy in Champaign, Illinois. Through this effort we have been able to distribute over $10.9 million from the Fire Prevention Fund, with no money coming from the general revenue funds.
  3. Internal and External Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic - The Office Executive Team has met constantly since March 18, 2020 to make sure we were ahead of the COVID-19 curve.  We have maintained ongoing communication with all our employees, including regular emails, all agency WebEx meetings, and Survey Monkey surveys were utilized to gain valuable feedback on employee’s opinions of our communication and operations.  We were able to quickly transition 95% of our office workers to remote working and determine what operational functions we needed to suspend, and which were safe to continue based on the Restore Illinois program. The agency was able to purchase and distribute all required PPE and provided return to work guidance through associated policies and procedures prior to resuming full operations. We also produced a “Return to Work” video for our employees to reduce anxiety and explain what to expect when they came back to the office.  In addition, since March 18th, 2020, we have tracked the number of quarantined firefighters, COVID-19 positive firefighters and departments affected.  We have used this data to identify trends and hotspots where mutual aid or increased COVID-19 testing was needed, especially in our rural, volunteer departments where there is an existing shortage of firefighters and longer distances between stations.  We have worked hand in hand with the Associated Firefighters of Illinois, the Illinois Fire Chiefs, the Illinois Firefighters Association, the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System and the Illinois Fire Service Institute to ensure that every member of the Illinois fire service has the latest guidance, recommendations, protocols and PPE.  We utilized WebEx meetings, YouTube videos and conference calls to instruct Fire Chiefs how to request manpower and equipment resources as well as how to apply the Workers Compensation Act when their firefighters were affected by COVID-19.  We worked with IEMA to make sure that PPE was available for local fire departments and worked with IDPH to make sure that testing was available to firefighters in all parts of the state, especially in hot spot areas.

 

 

 

 

 

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