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AGO 1954 No. 352 - December 02, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

WASHINGTON STATE AERONAUTICS COMMISSION ‑- AUTHORITY TO ESTABLISH REASONABLE STANDARDS OF FIRE PROTECTION AT AIRPORTS

The Washington State Aeronautics Commission has authority to establish by regulation minimum fire protection requirements at both private and municipal airports within the state.

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                                                                December 2, 1954

Honorable Albert D. Rosellini
State Senator, 33rd District
1111 Smith Tower
Seattle, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 352


Dear Sir:

            Your letter of November 19, 1954, requesting our opinion on the authority of the Washington State Aeronautics Commission to establish by regulation reasonable standards of fire protection at airports has been received.

            It is our opinion that the Washington State Aeronautics Commission has authority to establish by regulation minimum fire protection requirements at both private and municipal airports within the state.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 14.04.210 provides:

            "The commission may perform such acts, issue and amend such orders, make, promulgate, and amend such reasonable general rules, regulations and procedures, and establish such minimum standards, consistent with the provisions of this chapter, as it shall deem necessary to perform its duties hereunder; all commensurate with and for the purpose of protecting and insuring the general public interest and safety, the safety of persons operating, using or traveling in aircraft or persons receiving instruction in flying or ground  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] subjects pertaining to aeronautics, and the safety of persons and property on land or water, and developing and promoting aeronautics in this state.  No rule or regulation of the commission shall apply to airports or air navigation facilities owned or operated by the United States.

            "The commission shall keep on file with the secretary of state, and at the principal office of the commission, a copy of all its rules and regulations for public inspection.

            "The commission shall provide for the publication and general distribution of all its orders, rules, regulations and procedures having general effect."

            RCW 14.08.330 provides in part:

            "Every airport and other air navigation facility controlled and operated by any municipality, or jointly controlled and operated, shall, subject to federal and state laws, rules, and regulations, be under the exclusive jurisdiction and control of the municipality or municipalities controlling and operating it and no other municipality * * *"

            By RCW 14.04.210 our legislature expressly authorized the commission to establish minimum standards necessary for the safety of the public and persons using facilities at airports.  This would necessarily involve establishing by regulation minimum fire fighting equipment requirements at airports of any given classification.  An arbitrary exercise of judgment by the commission in this regard would, of course, be without legal efficacy.  Only federally owned or operated airports are exempt.

            In conclusion, it is our opinion that the Washington State Aeronautics Commission  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] has authority to establish by regulation minimum fire protection requirements at private and municipal airports within the State of Washington.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


E. ALBERT MORRISON
Assistant Attorney General

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