AUSTIN (KXAN) - It has been two months since a Texas House panel tasked the State Fire Marshal's Office to come up with a plan to help prevent another explosion like the one at the West Fertilizer Company this spring.
Fire Marshal Chris Connealy says the assignment was challenging, because his office has some major limitations.
"When you're looking at fire code enforcement, you need a fire code,” said Connealy during a follow-up hearing on Monday.
But the state does not have one.
"So you don't have the authority to go in and require inspection,” Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, said to Connealy.
And counties are not required to have their own fire marshals either. Those that can afford them have the authority to inspect chemical manufacturers, distributors and storage sites.
"County fire marshals…do have the authority,” Connealy said. “Most counties in Texas do not have a county fire marshal."
Including McClennan County, where West is located. Unless the legislature changes the rules, Connealy said he has no choice but to ask chemical sites to allow his office to inspect them voluntarily.
So far, 62 have agreed, but five have said no.
“By far, most of them are wanting us on their property,” he said. “They want the information and assistance, and we will continue moving in that direction."
Connealy said his office still has to inspect about 150 sites, and it expects to wrap up sometime in October. Then in November, it will launch a new website to let Texans know how close their homes are to those locations.
In response to the West explosion, President Barack Obama issued an executive order earlier this month. It tasks federal agencies to review safety rules at chemical plants.
The President said he wants agencies to look at new ways to safely store ammonium nitrate, the explosive that caused the West explosion.
The State Fire Marshal's Office said it will also know more about firefighters' response before the explosion sometime early next year. It is called a "line of duty" report - something required after a firefighter dies in the line of duty.
Conneally called 2013 unprecedented in his 35-year career, as 18 Texas firefighters have died on the job - including the ten in West.
The University of Texas Board of Regents adjourned Thursday without taking action on the job status of embattled UT President Bill Powers.
Longhorns coach Mack Brown talked with reporters Thursday for the first time since reports surfaced this week that he could be stepping down.
After two hours of discussion regarding the final design for Auditorium Shores, the Austin City Council decided to approve the design on a vote of 7-0 with amendments.
Despite what seemed like a surge of controversies, the Austin Aquarium opened its doors to members Thursday for a private pre-entry showing.
One person was killed Thursday in a rollover crash near Cedar Creek, the Bastrop County Sheriff's Office said.
A 15-year-old girl told police she was abducted from the parking lot at Bastrop High School on Wednesday.