(a) The State Fire Commission may employ personnel, fix their compensation and, within funds available to do so, incur expenses as necessary in the performance of the duties of its office.
(b) The State Fire Commission is responsible for fire programs within this state, including the State Fire Marshal"s office, training, uniform standards and certification, finance and planning and fire prevention.
(c) All state and area training and education in fire service shall be coordinated by the State Fire Commission. The State Fire Marshal shall ensure that these programs are operated throughout the state at a level consistent with needs identified by the commission.
(d) The State Fire Commission may make recommendations to the State Insurance Commissioner regarding town classifications for fire insurance rates.
(e) The formation of any new fire department, including volunteer fire departments, requires the concurrence of the State Fire Commission. The State Fire Commission shall develop a method of certification which can be applied to all fire departments and volunteer fire departments.
(f) The State Fire Commission shall develop a plan for fire prevention and control which shall include, but not be limited to, the following areas: Manpower needs; location of training centers; location of fire prevention and control units; communications; fire fighting facilities; water sources; vehicular needs; public education and information; public participation; standardization in record keeping; evaluation of personnel; reporting of fire hazards; programs on mutual aid; location of public safety agencies; outline of fire prevention programs; and accessibility of fire prevention information.
(g) The State Fire Commission shall establish fire protection areas and at such times as funds are available shall establish field offices for inspection, planning and certification.
(h) The State Fire Marshal may accept, on behalf of the State Fire Commission, gifts, grants, court ordered civil forfeiture proceedings and bequests of funds or property from individuals, foundations, corporations, the federal government, governmental agencies and other organizations or institutions. The State Fire Marshal, acting on behalf of the State Fire Commission, may enter into, sign and execute any agreements and do and perform any acts that may be necessary, useful, desirable or convenient to effectuate the purposes of this article. Moneys from gifts, grants, civil forfeiture proceedings and bequests received by the State Fire Marshal shall be deposited into the special account set forth in subsection (c), section twelve-b of this article, and the State Fire Marshal, with the approval of the State Fire Commission, has the authority to make expenditures of, or use of any tangible property, in order to effectuate the purposes of this article.
(i) The State Fire Commission shall establish standards and procedures by policy to implement the provisions of this section with regard to the following:
(1) Fire prevention and control;
(2) Uniform standards of performance, equipment and training;
(4) Training and education in fire service, subject to the rule-making requirements set forth in section five-d of this article; and
(5) The creation, operation and responsibilities of fire departments throughout the state.
(j) Beginning July 1, 2019, applicants for certification or licensure in accordance with the education and training programs under the respective jurisdictions of the State Fire Commission and the State Fire Marshal shall be permitted to apply training hours earned via career technical education provided by West Virginia public schools or an apprenticeship program or employer-sponsored training program towards the requirements for certification and/or licensure by the State Fire Commission and the State Fire Marshal as applicable. The State Fire Commission and State Fire Marshal shall, after consultation with the State Superintendent of Schools, propose rules for legislative approval, in accordance with the provisions of §29A-3-1 et seq. of this code, for the implementation and enforcement of these provisions. The rules shall provide at least the following:
(1) Standards and procedures for recognizing training hours acquired through career technical education provided by West Virginia public schools and applying those hours to requirements for testing and/or certification and/or licensure; and
(2) Standards and procedures for recognizing training hours acquired through apprenticeship programs and employer-sponsored training programs and applying those hours to requirements for testing and/or certification and/or licensure.
As used in this subsection:
"Apprentice" means someone who is enrolled in an apprenticeship program.
"Apprenticeship program" means a program offered by an employer to provide supervised on-the-job training to employees approved by the United States Department of Labor.
"Employer sponsored training program" means a program approved in accordance with a rule promulgated by the State Fire Commission or the State Fire Marshal under their respective authorities established in this code.
"License" means a valid and current certification or license issued by State Fire Commission or the State Fire Marshal for satisfactory completion of education and training programs under their respective jurisdictions.
"Career technical education" means programs of study, clusters, and pathways approved by the West Virginia Board of Education pursuant to state board policy.