This month in Firehouse Magazine, my Fire Law column Can a Homeowner Just Say No focused on the right of firefighters to enter onto someone’s property with or without their permission to investigate and extinguish a fire.
From the phone calls, emails and comments I have received, the column touched on a topic of great interest to many firefighters.
A number of you have written to me asking for your state’s laws on the subject. I spent four hours yesterday doing that kind of research for several states and it only scratched the surface.
The problem is – there is only so much time in the day – so here is what I propose: Send in your state’s right of entry law – post it here as a comment and we will have a solid collection of them here for ready reference to share with brother and sister firefighters.
As the article pointed out, many states have statutes that authorize entry by firefighters. In other states the right is authorized on a local level by ordinances. In addition – in many states the right is recognized by case law.
Here is Rhode Island’s Law. Let’s see how many states and jurisdictions we can locate.
RIGL § 23-37-1 Police authority of fire company officers at fire – Right of entry. The chief, chief engineer, assistant engineer, captain, lieutenant or any other executive officer of any…organization organized or created for the purpose of extinguishing fires and preventing fire hazards…in response to an alarm for such a fire shall, in the absence of the chief of police, have the power to suppress any tumult or disorder and to command from the inhabitants of the city or town all needful assistance for the suppression of fires and in the preservation of property exposed to fire; the officers above enumerated shall also have authority to go onto and enter any property or premises and to do whatever may reasonably be necessary in the performance of their duties while engaged in the work of extinguishing any fire or performing any duties incidental thereto.
Whether it is a statute, ordinance or case – let us know what your state says about a firefighter’s right to enter.