Fire Inspection Frequently Asked Questions

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1 Fire Inspection Frequently Asked Questions What authority does the City have to conduct Fire Inspections? Kirby Fire Marshal conducts fire/safety inspections based on a Fire Code requirement that all commercial, public accessible, and multi-family residential buildings be maintained in a fire safe condition. The state law that provides authority to the City to conduct inspections is the INSPECTION OF PREMISES; ORDER TO REMOVE OR REPAIR DANGEROUS CONDITIONS; APPEAL. Why does the City conduct Fire Inspections? There are two general reasons why fire/safety inspections are conducted. (1) To ensure that any building in which the general public enters for business, entertainment, social, religious, or other a purpose is maintained in a fire safe status. (2) Fire safety inspections provide the owner/occupant of the building an indication of fire/safety hazards so they may correct the hazards to reduce their liability and potential for loss due to a fire. What is a Fire Code? A Fire Code is a group of fire safety requirements that are developed to protect a specific type of operation, to protect the occupants of a building from fire, and to reduce the potential for a fire to start. These requirements are developed based on information gathered from around the United States that have caused fires in the past. A significant amount of investigation and research is conducted to determine the actual cause of fire before an item becomes a part of the Fire Code. Once a Fire Code has been adopted by a City, it becomes the City Law that regulates fire safety. Failure to comply with the Fire Code can result in citations, fines, and even jail. The Fire Code used by Kirby is part of a series of Codes that are designed to do two specific things: (1) to protect the lives of the people who enter, work, visit, or otherwise occupy a building, and (2) to ensure that all aspects of the construction of a building, and the operations or functions performed within a building are done in a fire safe manner. What Fire Code does the City enforce? City of Kirby utilizes the International Fire Code 2006 as adopted by the City Council under the authority granted by the FIRE CODE ADOPTED ordinance. In City of Kirby the International Fire Code takes precedence over any other codes normally utilized by state agencies because the State Law allows the City to enforce its code in lieu of other minimum codes. Why does the City charge a fee for conducting a fire inspection? The small fee that is charged for a fire inspection is to help offset the cost of having the tools, equipment, and personnel necessary to ensure fire safety in the City. Fire/Safety inspections are a vital part of the rating system that establishes the insurance rates the citizens of Kirby pay for home and business insurance. 1 P a g e

2 How often does the City conduct a fire/safety inspection? Every effort is made to inspect all business in the City on an annual basis. While we try to inspect each year on approximately the same date, this is not always possible. Our policy is to inspect approximately one year from the last inspection, within the same month. A Fire Inspector found a violation of the Fire Code in my building, what must I do? If a violation is found that is a maintenance related problem, the Fire Inspector will provide a date (generally 30 days) to correct the violation. If the violation can be corrected during the inspection, it will be noted on the inspection form that the correction has already taken place. If a violation is found that will require the alteration or installation of new equipment or safety features, the Fire Inspector will indicate this on the report, and provide a date to submit a written proposal to the Fire Marshal that will include an anticipated date that you can make the necessary corrections. Each written request is evaluated on a case-by-case basis depending on the type of repair/installation that is needed. If the request is within a reasonable time limit, and a reasonable level of safety can be maintained, an extension to comply will generally be granted. The Fire Inspector told me that a re-inspection is necessary, why? A re-inspection becomes necessary when a violation is found that cannot be corrected at the time of the inspection. The reason for the re-inspection is to produce the documentation showing the violation has been corrected, and that the building is then in compliance with all applicable codes and laws. If I fail to make corrections to a fire code violation, what happens? Initially, the Fire Inspector will issue a Notice of Violation. The Notice will indicate a date that the violation must be corrected by. The Fire Marshal's Office will make every effort to work with the building owner/occupant to bring the building into compliance without having to take further legal action. However, if the building owner/occupant continues to resist efforts to correct a fire hazard, the owner/occupant is subject to arrest and prosecution as indicated in the Failure to comply; filing of complaint. By failing to comply will result in a Notice to Appear in Court. Why am I being told I have to install a Fire Alarm System? The requirements to install a fire alarm system are based on several factors that are found in current buildings (as well as buildings being built). These factors include the type of building classification, the number of people that can be in the building (based on maximum number of people), and size of the building. A fire alarm system is considered a life safety system. It is designed to operate automatically when either a manual pull station is activated or when smoke is detected by a smoke detector. Upon activation, it will notify the building occupants by flashing lights and a loud sound to evacuate the building. A fire alarm system is also one of the two most important fire protection systems that can be installed in a building to protect the contents, inventories, stock, merchandise, tools and equipment, and the lives of those people who work in the building and those who visit the building. 2 P a g e

3 Why am I being told I have to install a Fire Sprinkler System? The requirements to install a fire sprinkler system are based on several factors that are found in current buildings (as well as buildings being built). These factors include the type of building classification, size of the building, and the contents of the building. A fire sprinkler system is considered a life safety system. It is designed to operate automatically when a certain amount of heat at the ceiling level activates a sprinkler head and causes water to flow. This water flow will either completely extinguish a fire or hold the fire from progressing further until the fire department can arrive. National Fire Protection Association statistics indicate that in almost all cases, only one or two sprinkler heads activate when a fire actually occurs. A fire sprinkler system is also one of the two most important fire protection systems that can be installed in a building to protect the contents, inventories, stock, merchandise, tools and equipment, and the lives of those people who work or reside in the building and those who visit the building. Contrary to the popular TV version of fire sprinklers, the activation of one sprinkler head does not cause all heads to go off and flood a building! Is my building is "Grandfathered" from having to meet current codes? This is a misconception or myth. There are no provisions in either the International Fire or Building Codes that allows a building to exist in an unsafe condition. The INSPECTION OR REVIEW OF PLAN FOR FIRE OR LIFE SAFETY HAZARDS Section Intent specifically indicates that our inspections shall look for inappropriate means of egress, fire protection, or other fire-related safeguard. Additionally, the Fire Code indicates the following: The only exemption to this rule in the Fire Code that the City of Kirby Changed: Section Spray Booths and Rooms. New or remolded spray booths and spraying rooms shall be protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system and/or an approved automatic fire-extinguisher system in accordance International Fire Code. 3 P a g e Section Automatic Sprinkler System Room Access. Sprinkler system risers providing protection for all new buildings with multiple tenant spaces must be located in a ground floor room directly accessible from the exterior. The door must be labeled as the riser room. Buildings with single tenants may access the riser location from the interior of the building. How is the occupant load for my building calculated? The occupant load for a building is based on the number of people that can be in a specific area of a building. It uses the actual square foot of a room or area multiplied by a factor indicated in the Fire Code for that type of room use. The total occupant load for a building is calculated by adding all of the various room/area occupant loads together. Certain types of rooms are exempt from calculation, such as a bathroom, because the bathroom would normally be occupied by someone from one of the other calculated rooms. The occupant load indicator listed in the Fire Code is different for different types of room uses; for example, an area used for an office does not need as much room as a room where manufacturing equipment is used. The seating area of a church with fixed pews is different from the seating area of a restaurant.

4 My business is regulated or licensed by the State, and they use the Life Safety Code, why is the Fire Inspector telling me I have to comply with the City Fire Code? The State of Texas uses the Life Safety Code as the minimum safety requirements that a regulated or licensed facility must comply with. However, Local Government Code allows City s the ability to adopt there own Fire Code. City of Kirby has adopted the International Fire Code of 2006, and this is the Fire Code that all buildings and occupancies located inside Kirby must comply with. The State Fire Marshal's Office issued a bulletin concerning Foster Homes (No. B ) explaining this issue in detail. While the bulletin is issued concerning Foster Homes, the state law is applicable in all situations. A majority of the requirements of the International Fire Code are similar to the Life Safety Code. The fire protection system requirements of the International Fire Code are typically more stringent or more restrictive. Any inspection conducted under the International Fire Code will meet and/or exceed the minimum requirements that a licensed or regulated facility must comply with. I just started a business, moved into a new building, or fixed up an existing building what do I have to do? You must obtain a Certificate of Change of Occupancy. In order to get this certificate, you must call the City Hall and schedule an Inspection for Change of Occupancy. An inspection is required because buildings are built based on the contents or operations to be performed inside the building. When the occupancy changes, the Fire Inspector has to check to make sure the fire protection related constructions features of the building are consistent with the new occupancy and it contents and operations. You will be advised at the time if additional fire protection systems or fire resistive construction must be added based on your operations. The fee for the inspection is $15.00, and must be paid before the inspection. The City Hall will collect this fee, and will give you a written receipt for the payment. If the building is found to meet the fire code for your occupancy requirements, the Fire Marshal or Fire Chief will sign the Certificate of Occupancy. If the building does not meet the specific Fire Code requirements, the Inspector will provide you with information on how to proceed from that point, and who to contact. I want to install fuel tanks at my property, what must I do? All fueling systems must have a permit to be installed. The fuel tanks must meet the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association and the installation of the tank(s) must be under the supervision of a Fire Inspector. Two sets of plans showing the property lines, the location of any buildings on the property, and the proposed location of the fuel tanks must be submitted for evaluation and approval by the representative that will be installing the tanks. If the tank installation meets all fire code requirements, a permit will be issued. I believe I saw a fire code violation at a business I visited, what can I do about it? You can call the Fire Marshal at and register a complaint. You can do this anonymously, but you must have the name of the business, and address and describe what you saw or what you believe was the violation. The Fire Marshal policy is to respond to complaints of this nature within 24 hours, unless there 4 P a g e

5 is a clearly defined life safety issue. If a life safety issue is registered, the Fire Marshal will respond within two (2) hours if on shift. If the Fire Marshal is not on duty, this issue will be taken care of when on duty. What does the Inspector look for during an inspection? This is a list of items of some things the Inspector will be looking for as part of the fire inspection of your occupancy. 1. Fire extinguishers are serviced, inspected, and mounted. Fire extinguishers must be mounted at no higher that 5ft. 2. Exit Signs in place and illuminated 3. Clear and safe means of egress 4. Unsafe hazards 5. No usage of extension cords 6. Address marked clearly outside the building What is an "Exit" Strategy, and why is it important? The most important thing you can do when you enter a building is to find and know the ways out! During an emergency event, the way that you came in may not be the best way to leave! If you and your loved ones are going to survive an emergency, it is critical that you remain calm and have an "EXIT strategy" in place. 5 P a g e

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