Section 201. There shall be an automatic sprinkler appeals board, hereinafter called the appeals board, to consist of the fire safety commission established under the provisions of section two hundred.
Whoever is aggrieved by the head of the fire department’s interpretation, order, requirement, direction or failure to act under the provisions of sections twenty-six A1/2 and twenty-six G1/2 and twenty-six G of chapter one hundred and forty-eight, may within forty-five days after the service of notice thereof appeal from such interpretation, order, requirement, direction, or failure to act to the appeals board. Appeals hereunder shall be on forms provided by the appeals board and shall be accompanied by such a fee as said appeals board may determine.
The state, city or town officer in charge of the records and all other papers and documents relative to an appeal shall forthwith, upon receipt of a request of the appeals board, transmit such papers and documents constituting such record to the appeals board.
An appeal shall stay all proceedings in furtherance of the action or failure to act appealed from unless the head of the fire department presents evidence that a stay would involve imminent peril of life or property.
The chairman of the fire safety commission may designate any five members of the appeals board to hold any public hearing under this section, and to hear testimony and take evidence.
The appeals board in hearings conducted under this section shall not be bound by strict rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law or equity.
Decisions on appeal shall be made by the members of the appeals board conducting the public hearing. Every decision shall require the concurrence of a majority of those members holding the public hearing but in no case a vote for an appeal shall be less than three members voting in the affirmative, and the appeals board shall state in writing its findings of fact, its conclusions, reasons for its decision and indicate the vote of each such member participating in said decision. A majority of the members of the appeals board shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of conducting business, but a lesser number may adjourn from time to time.
The chairman shall fix a convenient time and place for a public hearing before said five members. Said hearing shall be held not later than thirty days after the filing of such appeal unless such time is extended by agreement with the appellant. The chairman shall give at least ten days notice of the time and place of said hearing to all interested parties. Any such party may appear in person or by agent or attorney at such hearing. The appeals board shall issue a decision or order reversing, affirming or modifying in whole or in part such interpretation, order or requirement, or postponing the application thereof, within thirty days after such hearing, unless such time is extended by agreement with the appellant.
A record of all appeals board decisions and of votes thereunder, properly indexed, shall be maintained in the office of the appeals board and shall be open to public inspection at all times during regular business hours.
The appeals board may grant a variance from any provision of section twenty-six A1/2 and twenty-six G1/2 of chapter one hundred and forty-eight or from any provision of the rules and regulations promulgated by the fire safety commission under section two hundred and may determine the suitability of alternate materials and methods of sprinkler installation and may provide reasonable interpretations of said section twenty-six A1/2 and twenty-six G1/2 and said fire safety commission rules and regulations; provided, however, that appeals board decisions shall not conflict with the general objectives of said section twenty-six A1/2 and twenty-six G1/2.
In exercising its powers under this section, the appeals board may grant an extension of time for compliance with the provisions of said section twenty-six A1/2 and twenty-six G1/2 in any particular case that said board deems an extension to be necessary. The appeals board shall, in addition to any other considerations the board deems appropriate, examine the following factors when granting an extension; the location, overall height, and primary use of the buildings; structural complications; asbestos removal; insufficient water pressure, financial hardship and nonexistence of a standpipe.
The appeals board may grant a waiver from compliance with the provisions of said section twenty-six A1/2 and twenty-six G1/2 in any particular case that said board deems a waiver to be appropriate. The appeals board shall, in addition to any other considerations the board deems appropriate, examine the architectural or historical significance of the building or structure when granting said waiver.