WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — People living in Winston-Salem want to know how an 80-year-old building can be packed with 600 tons of flammable material.

The building codes in place for the Winston Weaver Fertilizer Plant date back to the late 1930s.

“Building codes today have more detailed requirements as far as chemical process and chemical storage,” said Rick McIntyre, assistant fire marshal.

The only time the owners of the plant are required to bring things up to today’s codes is when they add buildings or make changes to existing ones.

A representative from the planning department tells FOX8 the facility has no current or past permit requests for building additions or changes.

“There are five buildings on this site. The original building and several others that were added to after the fact were built in the ’40s, ’50s and ’70s,” McIntyre said. “It had to meet the building code that was in effect at that time the building was constructed.”

Sprinkler systems and other fire prevention methods weren’t required until after most of the facility was built.

“Now, it’s much more detailed, and that would be what they would be required to meet today,” McIntyre said.

When inspectors walk through the buildings, they typically look at how chemicals are stored and if there are fire and life safety devices available.

Most buildings are inspected every two or three years. A business like this is required more often.

Inspection reports from the City of Winston-Salem over the last three years show passing scores. In 2020, the only notes state parts of the building are in poor condition and electrical upgrades were being made.

Fire investigators are now reviewing inspections the state and other agencies conducted.

As for how and if people are supposed to know hazardous materials are stored near where they live, local elected leaders say their hands are tied.

The city can’t force a business to disclose what materials are on hand, and businesses aren’t required to disclose that information.

Mayor Pro Tempore D.D. Adams tells FOX 8 that everything from building to safety codes are governed by general statutes. If people want to see changes, they should contact their state representative.