Fire Department Inspections

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You may worry when it is time for a fire department inspection at your business will fail, but being prepared offers the best chance of success. Fire department inspections of businesses are conducted to ensure compliance with fire safety regulations and to identify potential hazards that could pose a threat to occupants and property.

A key benefit of fire department inspections is the promotion of a proactive approach to fire safety through prevention. Fire department inspections are conducted with the goal of identifying hazards to life and property and to provide explanations of how to correct the hazard(s) and comply with fire codes. The specific procedures and requirements can vary depending on local regulations, but generally, the following is involved.

Fire Department Inspection Frequency and Scheduling Process

The fire department typically contacts the business owner or manager to schedule an inspection. Fire department inspections are generally conducted during normal business operating hours to allow for the observation of the building under normal operating conditions.

Frequency of fire department inspections is determined by several factors including, but not limited to, the use of the building or occupancy, the presence of fire protection systems and features, and special hazards associated with the structure. Most often, fire department inspections are conducted on an annual or semi-annual basis.

How to Prepare for a Fire Department Inspection

The personnel within the company who are responsible for fire protection should be prepared for the fire department inspection by ensuring that fire safety systems, equipment, and documentation are in order.

This includes fire extinguishers, emergency exits, fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and any other relevant safety features. Physical paper copies that document proof of fire protection system service inspection, testing, and maintenance should be organized and ready for review.

If fire and life safety inspection software such as InspectNTrack is used, compliance reports can be generated on-demand to satisfy the requests of the fire department inspector as they are made.

Documentation Requirements

The fire inspector will most likely want to review documentation related to fire safety, such as the fire safety plan, evacuation procedures, and records of maintenance and inspections for fire safety equipment.

Records should be available that document inspection, testing, and maintenance activities for fire protection systems, fire extinguishers, and other egress and safety equipment. In general, inspection and testing intervals are defined by NFPA standards put in place for each type of equipment. Familiarity of applicable NFPA chapters, or usage of fire and life safety inspection software with pre-defined inspection and maintenance schedules, will help to ensure compliance.

Providing documentation that demonstrates compliance with NFPA ITM requirements is a great way to show that fire protection equipment is in good working order and ready to use in case of a fire.

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Physical Inspection

The inspector will conduct a physical walkthrough of the premises to identify potential fire hazards and assess the overall fire safety of the building. This includes checking for:

  • Proper storage of flammable materials
  • Functionality of fire alarms and sprinkler systems
  • Accessibility of emergency exits and pathways
  • Condition and placement of fire extinguishers
  • Compliance with occupancy limits
  • Properly marked exit signs

Fire Code Violations

If any portion of the physical inspection or documentation review fail, the business may be issued a fire code violation. Unless the violation poses an immediate threat, the business will normally be permitted a period of time to correct the issue. A re-inspection may be necessary to confirm the correction or abatement of the violations(s).


Things to do Prior to the Fire Department Inspection to Ensure Success

Fire department inspections play a critical role in ensuring the safety of individuals and properties by identifying potential fire hazards and ensuring compliance with fire safety standards. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) establishes comprehensive codes and standards that are widely recognized and adopted by fire departments across the United States. The following insights and strategies, aligned with NFPA codes, can help you successfully navigate and pass a fire department inspection.

Action Items/Areas of Focus

  1. Familiarize Yourself with NFPA Codes: Understanding the NFPA codes relevant to your property type and occupancy is essential. The NFPA 1: Fire Code and NFPA 101: Life Safety Code are fundamental references that cover various aspects of fire safety, including building design, occupancy classifications, and fire protection systems.
  2. Conduct a Comprehensive Self-Inspection: Conduct a thorough self-inspection of your property in alignment with NFPA guidelines. This includes assessing fire exits, alarm systems, sprinklers, emergency lighting, fire doors, and electrical systems.
  3. Fire Safety Plans and Evacuation Procedures (NFPA 101): Develop and maintain clear fire safety plans and evacuation procedures that adhere to NFPA 101. Ensure that occupants are familiar with escape routes, assembly points, and emergency contact information.
  4. Maintenance of Fire Protection Systems (NFPA 25): Fire protection systems, such as sprinklers and fire alarms, must be inspected, tested, and maintained as per NFPA 25. Keep accurate records of maintenance activities to demonstrate compliance.
  5. Electrical Systems (NFPA 70 – National Electrical Code): Adhere to the NFPA 70, commonly known as the National Electrical Code (NEC), for electrical safety. This code covers proper wiring, grounding, and installation practices to prevent electrical hazards.
  6. Flammable and Combustible Materials (NFPA 30): NFPA 30 provides guidelines for the storage, handling, and use of flammable and combustible liquids. Store such materials in compliance with these regulations and ensure proper ventilation.
  7. Portable Fire Extinguishers (NFPA 10): Ensure that portable fire extinguishers are present, properly located, and regularly inspected in accordance with NFPA 10. The right type and size of extinguisher should be available based on the potential fire hazards.
  8. Fire Doors and Exiting Requirements (NFPA 80, NFPA 101): Fire doors must be maintained, inspected, and tested according to NFPA 80. Exit doors should be easy to open, unobstructed, and compliant with NFPA 101 requirements.
  9. Emergency Lighting (NFPA 101): Emergency lighting is essential for guiding occupants to safe exits during power outages. It must be installed and maintained as per NFPA 101 standards.
  10. Special Occupancies and Hazardous Materials (Various NFPA Codes): If your property falls under special occupancies, such as healthcare facilities or industrial settings, ensure compliance with the specific NFPA codes that apply to those occupancies. NFPA codes cover aspects like hazardous materials storage and fire protection systems.
  11. Regular Training and Drills (NFPA 1403): For properties that conduct fire-related training, such as fire departments or training centers, adhere to NFPA 1403 guidelines. This code outlines safety practices for live fire training evolutions.
  12. Communication and Cooperation: Maintain open communication with fire department officials and inspectors. Address their questions, provide necessary documentation, and demonstrate your commitment to fire safety.
  13. Corrective Actions and Re-inspection: If issues are identified during the inspection, take prompt corrective actions in accordance with NFPA recommendations. Request a re-inspection once the necessary improvements are completed.


Successfully passing a fire department inspection involves aligning your property’s safety measures with NFPA codes. By meticulously following the guidelines provided by the NFPA 1, NFPA 101, and other relevant codes, you can create a safer environment for occupants and increase the likelihood of a successful inspection. InspectNTrack software streamlines the NFPA compliance process by incorporating codes into inspection forms and automatic scheduling.

By actively participating in inspections, education, code enforcement, fire investigations, collaborations, and ongoing training, fire departments play a vital role in helping cities stay compliant with NFPA codes. Their efforts contribute to creating safer communities, reducing fire risks, and protecting the lives and property of city residents.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to prevent fire incidents, safeguard lives, and protect valuable assets according to nationally recognized standards.

A Fire Department Inspection in progress