Local jurisdictions must decide the trade offs that make their communities as

Local jurisdictions must decide the trade offs that

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cost is not just in dollars, such as the loss of property – the cost may also be lives. Local jurisdictions must decide the trade-offs that make their communities as safe as possible while not being cost-restrictive to business owners and residents. Unfortunately, small, rural areas like Aiken County, South Carolina, do not easily provide detailed data on fire code enforcement violations or fire fatalities. According to the 2018-19 Annual Report for the Aiken Department of Public Safety (2019), in FY 2018-2019 there were 121 total fires in the city limits and 65 fires outside of the city limits (p. 14) Of those, 57 were building fires in the city and 23 were building fires outside of the city limits (Aiken Department of Public Safety, 2019, p. 14). These both show a slight increase in fires since the previous year. However, there are no statistics provided on how many of those were in commercial versus residential buildings. The State of South Carolina NFIRS Program (n.d.) reported the following fire statistics in the 2018 Annual Report (p. 5):
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UNIT 5 SCHOLARLY ACTIVITY 4 The loss of seven lives occurred in multi-family structures in the state and six lives were lost in Aiken County due to fire. Interestingly, 62% of fatal fires were attributed to human causes, such as heating, cooking, smoking, burning and arson. Heating accounted for 24% of the incidents. Only 38% of all incidents are attributed to causes out of our control, with 27% of those still under investigation, undetermined, or have another source, and 11% with causes such as weather or electrical issues (State of SC NFIRS Program, n.d., p. 8). This indicates that the main cause of fatal fires is likely human interaction or error, and fire code enforcement cannot prevent that. However, this does not mean that fire codes should not be enforced. In his article, “This economic theory can change fire-code compliance”, Matt Hinds- Aldrich (2014) suggests that incentives should be changed to reward compliance rather than punishing non-compliance based on the theory of behavioral economics. In this model, the annual renewal fee for a license a business owner might need, such as a liquor license, would be raised to $10,000 per year instead of $2,500 per year. However, business owners would receive discounts to their renewal fees based on fire code compliance, like passing an unannounced fire and life safety inspection the previous year and having no fire code violations. They could even receive additional incentives for going above and beyond recommended fire codes (Hinds-
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UNIT 5 SCHOLARLY ACTIVITY 5 Aldrich, 2014). In this way, business owners could be incentivized to comply with fire codes with a great benefit to the community and less cost to the fire industry.
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  • Summer '18
  • Edmond Rodriguez
  • Active fire protection, Fire protection, Fire sprinkler, Fire sprinkler system

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