Fire Marshal & Inspections

Fire Marshal:

In addition to being the Director of Public Safety, this position also serves as the Fire Marshal for the county.  The Fire Marshal is responsible for enforcing the current Statewide Fire Prevention Code, which has been adopted by the County of Amherst.  Also, the following responsibilities fall under the Fire Marshal's office: issuing permits, performing safety inspections, reviewing plans for development, investigations of incidents involving fires, environmental crimes and bombings, as well as public education, public information and other related issues. 

Inspections

The goal of any State and County fire code is the prevention of fires and the loss of life. It is the responsibility of the Fire Marshal's Office to ensure public buildings and other places of assembly comply with these codes.   Our ongoing inspection priorities are those that do not change from year to year. These priorities include public and private schools, daycare facilities and licensed educational facilities.  We are also in the process of developing a program to inspect local restaurants.   

To report suspected fire code violations e-mail sabryant@countyofamherst.com or call 434-946-9307.

Investigations:

The Fire Marshal is responsible for determining the origin and cause of fires in a effort to prevent future occurrences. The types of fires investigated include; large loss fires, fires of suspicious nature, fires involving personal injury, and explosions

If a fire can not be prevented, a clear cause must be determined. The ability to examine a fire scene and reconstruct the sequence of events that took place that caused a fire is part science and part skill. Skills are used to examine burn patterns and characteristics while science is used to analyze materials that burned or may have failed. When put together, a clear picture of how a fire started usually begins to take shape. It is the skilled fire investigator that can put these two together to know who, what, how, and when a fire started. 

Knowing how a fire started can provide valuable information that can lead to safer products and process that we use daily. Defective products can be recalled, and the public can be educated on how best to prevent similar fires in the future. 

Some fires may not be accidental in nature. Intentionally set fires (arson) account for tens of thousands of fires annually. In instances where an arson fire is suspected, Amherst County Fire Investigators team up with Amherst County Sheriff's Office Investigators or the Virginia State Police to solve the crime. 

Report Arson

If you know of a suspected arson fire in Amherst County, e-mail sabryant@countyofamherst.com or call 434-946-9307.

 

 

 

PUBLIC DISPLAY OF FIREWORKS

 

The following is the Amherst County Code for the use of fireworks:


Sec. 11.5-56.  Purpose of division.

The regulations contained in this division are hereby adopted to provide for the issuance of permits to fair associations, amusement parks and organizations and groups of individuals for the display of fireworks, and to regulate the use and display of fireworks upon the granting of such permits.

(Ord. of 9-16-03(2); Ord. of 6-15-04(3))


Sec. 11.5-57.  Filing and contents of application for permit.

(a)   Written application for a permit to display fireworks shall be made, in triplicate, to the director of public safety stating the time, place, type of fireworks and circumstances under which they are proposed to be displayed. Each such application shall name at least one (1) person who shall participate in displaying the fireworks and who has had experience in displaying the type of fireworks proposed to be displayed. Each application shall include a diagram of where the fireworks will be ignited and where spectators will be located. An on-site visit will be conducted by the department of public safety to insure all safety precautions as described in NFPA Code 11-23, "Display of Fireworks" are met.

(b)   No permit shall be issued until the applicant files with the director of public safety a certificate of insurance in the amount of at least one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) combined single limit for bodily injury and property damage. This insurance policy shall become available for the payment of any damage rising from the acts or omissions of the applicant, his agents or his employees in connection with the display of aerial fireworks. The applicant shall ensure that the insurance policy is in effect at the time of the commencement of the activities authorized by the permit, and remains continuously in effect until such activities are completed.

(Ord. of 9-16-03(2); Ord. of 6-15-04(3))


Sec. 11.5-58.  Approval of permit application.

Upon approval of an application for a permit to display fireworks, the director of public safety shall write across such application the word "approved", and the application shall be dated and signed by him.

(Ord. of 9-16-03(2); Ord. of 6-15-04(3))


Sec. 11.5-59.  Approved application constitutes permit; disposition of copies of application.

One (1) copy of each application for a permit to display fireworks shall be kept on file by the director of public safety until after the date the fireworks are displayed, and two (2) copies, after being approved as provided in section 11.5-58, which will then become a permit to display fireworks, shall be returned to the applicant, who shall keep one (1) copy on file for sixty (60) days after displaying such fireworks, and one (1) copy shall be in possession of the person in charge of displaying the fireworks at the time and place they are being displayed.

(Ord. of 9-16-03(2); Ord. of 6-15-04(3))


Sec. 11.5-60.  Term of permit.

A permit for the display of fireworks shall be valid only for a period of thirty (30) days from the date affixed to the permit application by the director of public safety pursuant to section 11.5-58, and all fireworks covered by such permit shall be displayed or discharged within such period.

(Ord. of 9-16-03(2); Ord. of 6-15-04(3))


Sec. 11.5-61.  Storage of fireworks prior to use.

Prior to the use of fireworks pursuant to a permit provided for in this division, they shall be stored in a metal container in a building of masonry, concrete or other firm construction, so that members of the public cannot have access to them, and such fireworks shall not be stored in the county for a period in excess of thirty (30) consecutive days from the date affixed to the permit application by the director of public safety pursuant to section 11.5-58.

(Ord. of 9-16-03(2); Ord. of 6-15-04(3))


Sec. 11.5-62.  Authorized participants.

The director of public safety and the applicant shall work together to determine the maximum number of persons who shall participate in displaying fireworks at one (1) time, and all such persons shall be over the age of twenty-one (21) years old.

(Ord. of 9-16-03(2); Ord. of 6-15-04(3))


Sec. 11.5-63.  Regulation of spectators.

No spectator or member of the public, other than those who are participating indisplaying or discharging fireworks pursuant to a permit provided for in this division, shall be allowed closer than two hundred (200) feet to the point at which the fireworks are to be discharged. In no case shall a display be fired within five hundred (500) feet of a school, theater, church, hospital, or similar institution.

(Ord. of 9-16-03(2); Ord. of 6-15-04(3))

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P.O. Box 140, Amherst, VA 24521
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