Fire boss may toughen fire codes - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Fire boss may toughen fire codes

February 22, 2008

Albany -- A 10th victim in the sugar refinery explosion near Savannah has died at an Augusta Burn Center. Now, Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine is looking into toughening the state fire code for industries.  

The sugar refinery explosion February Seventh was caused by sugar dust igniting. Commissioner Oxendine said he learned during the investigation that federal authorities with O.H.S.A. and the Chemical Safety Board had known about safety issues at the plant for some time, but had not forced any changes.

Oxendine says he is having his fire marshal's division looking into ways the state fire code can be toughened, to improve workplace safety.

"You would hope that it wouldn't be necessary for us, that the Feds would do it for workplace safety. But because they haven't acted yet, we are looking at taking measures into our own hands," said Oxendine.

Chemical Safety Board Director of Public Affairs Dr. Daniel Horowitz denies their agency knew about any hazards at the Imperial plant beforehand.  Horowitz said "We are an investigative agency, certainly never in that plant before or knew the dangers there."    

Commissioner Oxendine said any Georgian who suspects fire code problems where they work should call his office, saying he will have someone investigate suspected problems without revealing the caller's name.

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