Bill to Ensure Firefighter Safety is Signed

Monday, July 31, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill (AB) 549, authored by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), to ensure firefighters are properly notified when municipalities approve a building permit for an electrified security fence has been signed into law.

Existing law requires that signage be placed along a property indicating when there is an electrified security fence present. However, there is no requirement that the local firefighters or fire marshal be notified when a permit is approved. This poses a potentially significant safety risk for firefighters responding to an emergency call at these locations.

“I authored AB 549 in response to concerns raised by my local responding firefighters. They expressed concern about how the electrical current will interact with the metal tools they use for forced entry,” explained Assemblymember Quirk.

According to information provided by the California Professional Firefighters, such was the case in 2013, when a CalFIRE firefighter was stunned and knocked down by a powerful electric fence shock while responding to a fire in the American River Canyon.

“We are pleased that the legislature and governor felt strongly that firefighters should be protected and notified in the event that electrified fences are being considered in their communities,” said Sean Burrow, President of Alameda County Firefighters, Local 55.

“The signing of AB 549 will provide first responders with important information. The nature of the emergency response profession is unpredictable. The more information a fire department has regarding potential response hazards, the better prepared these brave men and women will be in navigating those hazards to ensure a safe outcome,” Assemblymember Quirk said upon learning his bill was signed.

AB 549 will go into effect January 1, 2018.

Elected in 2012, Bill Quirk brings his PhD in astrophysics and career as an educator and scientist to the State Assembly.  He is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. He is also Chair of the Select Committee on California’s Clean Energy Economy. He is a member of the Agriculture, Public Safety, Revenue and Taxation, and Utilities and Energy Committees.  Website of Assemblymember Quirk: http://www.asmdc.org/quirk