WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Wheeling Fire Chief Jim Blazier says before driving that first nail into a building you are interested in developing, there are a few phone calls you need to make first.

Chief Blazier says it is important that you reach out to an architect, if you have one, the Wheeling City Fire Department and maybe even the city’s Bureau of Fire Prevention or building codes officials to let them know your intentions when it comes to a building of interest in the city of Wheeling.

On July 19th, city council approved an amendment to a 1981 rule that enacted a fire code specific to the city that states there must be two exits on every floor of every building that is for commercial use.
The amendment will now allow fire inspectors to work on a case-by-case basis to offer flexibility to both you and fire inspectors.

According to Chief Blazier, officials will work with you to understand what you want to use the building for and that all the fire safety codes are met or have exceeded officials expectations to ensure your building is safe.

The fire chief says it will be easier for you, in the long run, if you know what you want to do with your space rather than having to go back and make those upgrades to one of your floor levels later.

If you choose the most stringent set of rules and you change your mind and you don’t want to put people sleeping in your upstairs rooms, but you’ve met the codes, then basically you can put anything in there at that point. But if you tell us that you want to do just storage upstairs and later down the road you decide you want to put apartments up there then the codes are not going to work that we laid out for you.

Chief Jim Blazier, Wheeling Fire Department

According to the fire chief, officials will work with you to put what they call, life safety measures, in place, if a two-exit rule cannot be met.

LIfe safety measures include , fire doors, a fire sprinkler system and an alarm system that provides early warning for the occupants so they can get out safely.

The best number to call is 304-234-3726.