The Division of Fire Safety was originally established as the Missouri State Fire Marshal's Office in June 1972 with the signature of Governor Warren E. Hearnes upon legislation approved by the 76th General Assembly. There had been extensive efforts to create the state fire marshal’s office by members of the fire service and fire service organizations across the state, including the Fire Fighters Association of Missouri, West Central Firemen's Association, Missouri Association of Fire Chiefs, and Missouri Arson Association.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
Senate Bill No. 487 provided for the hiring of a fire marshal, a deputy, four investigators, and a secretary. The fire marshal and his staff were tasked with three basic responsibilities: assist law enforcement, fire department, and insurance investigators in cases of suspected arson, establish a central records file on suspicious fires, and develop programs to train local departments in the collection and preservation of evidence. Funding for the position and staff was approved in 1973.
In 1974, the State Fire Marshal's Office was transferred to the Department of Public Safety by the Omnibus State Reorganization Act. Under the Reorganization Act, the Inspection Unit was established to conduct fire safety inspections of facilities regulated by the Department of Health, Department of Mental Health, Division of Aging, and the Division of Family Services. Inspectors previously under the Department of Health were transferred to the State Fire Marshal's Office.
In 1984, the Office of the State Fire Marshal was assigned the task of enforcing House Bill 1060, which mandates the inspection and issuance of certificates of inspection of all non-exempt boilers and pressure vessels in Missouri. This created the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Unit. The unit enforces rules set forth by the Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessels Rules, which was appointed by the governor.
In 1985, the 83rd General Assembly enacted legislation which gave the State Fire Marshal's Office responsibility for implementing and enforcing legislation pertaining to the fireworks industry.
In 1985, the State Fire Marshal's Office became known as the Division of Fire Safety. The Missouri Fire Safety Advisory Board was appointed by the governor to advise the fire marshal on all matters pertaining to the responsibilities of the fire marshal and the division.
In 1986, the Division of Fire Safety was assigned the duty of enforcing House Bill 230. House Bill 230 provides cost-free training to all firefighters in the state. The division is mandated to offer training to firefighters, investigators and any state employees performing fire inspections pursuant to state statutes or state licensing requirements. House Bill 230 also tasks the division with responsibility for the tabulation of state fire incident reports which gather information regarding fire losses in the state and provide statistical data to the division.
The state assigned the division additional responsibilities after passage of the federal Hotel/Motel Safety Act, enacted in 1990 under Public Law 101-391. The federal law is designed to save lives and protect property by promoting fire and life safety in hotels, motels and other places of public accommodation.
With the passage of House Bill 1035, in 1994, the Elevator Safety Act was established and the Division of Fire Safety was assigned responsibility for implementation. The Elevator Safety Board was appointed by the governor to promulgate rules regarding this act. The rules became effective on July 1, 1999, requiring all elevators, escalators, dumbwaiters, and moving walkways to be inspected annually.
In 1997, the division was given responsibility for the investigation of accidents involving amusement rides. Promulgated rules have been submitted to the secretary of state and approved. This law requires the Division of Fire Safety to contract with a qualified inspector to conduct investigations of amusement ride accidents that results in serious physical injury or death.