New fire code ordinance aimed at businesses

Published 6:44 am Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Chief Taylor: Goal is safety, not fines

Batesville businesses will see stronger safety measures in place to ensure compliance with the city’s Fire Codes.  The Board of Aldermen have enacted Ordinance No. 2023-08-1 to address ongoing concerns about fire safety.

This new ordinance simplifies the correction process, outlines penalties for common violations, introduces re-inspection fees, and identifies urgent safety conditions.

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The Mississippi Rating Bureau mandates at least one Fire Code Inspection yearly for each business property. Some businesses, like daycares and those with commercial kitchens, require two inspections per year.

Key Points:

  • Fire inspectors identify violations and guide businesses on correction.
  • Re-inspections confirm corrections and maintain safety standards.

These inspections focus on ensuring businesses meet Fire Code requirements in areas like:

  1. Fire and Explosion Hazards: Storage, handling, and use of materials, devices, and equipment.
  2. Occupancy Safety: Conditions affecting people, property, and public welfare.
  3. Fire Systems: Construction and maintenance of fire protection systems.
  4. Emergency Responders: Reducing responder risks during emergencies.

In Batesville, over 650 businesses operate. From September 2022 to June 2023, the Fire Department conducted 1,173 inspections, with a third being re-inspections. During this time, 46% failed annual/semi-annual inspections, and 36% failed re-inspections. 

Meeting the demand for both regular and re-inspections has been challenging.

Chief Fire Inspector James Snyder said, “Many violations are easy fixes, but they can combine to create serious problems.” 

Malfunctioning exit signs and emergency lights are common, which provide critical wayfinding to people when smoke has consumed a building on fire. Replacing these fixtures – or simply changing a battery – costs as little as $40.

The new ordinance takes immediate effect and includes:

  1. 30 Days to Correct Violations: First re-inspection is free.
  2. Failed Re-inspection: 14 extra days, $50 re-inspection fee.
  3. Second Failed Re-inspection: Fine ($50 to $500), daily penalty until corrected, plus additional re-inspection fees.
  4. Harmful Hazards: Must be fixed immediately, or facility closes until corrected.
  5. Repeat Harmful Hazard Violations: $1000 fine and/or 6-months imprisonment.

Fire Chief Tim Taylor emphasized collaboration: “Our goal is safety, not fines. We want to help our businesses be successful while keeping in compliance. Let’s build a safer, stronger community together.”

The complete ordinance can be located on the City of Batesville website at