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How Do You Comply With Your Annual Fire Inspection Requirements?

Are you ready for your annual fire inspection? As a business owner, you are probably stressed at the prospect of a conflict with the fire marshal, but there are steps you can take to better prepare for your business’s inspection. 

The professionals at Allegiant Fire Protection know that an impending fire inspection can feel daunting to business owners, so we’ve created this guide to comply with your annual fire inspection requirements.

What Does a Fire Inspector Do?

A fire inspector plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of buildings and their occupants. 

Their primary responsibility is to conduct thorough inspections of various properties, assessing compliance with fire safety regulations. 

This includes examining fire protection systems, such as alarms and sprinkler systems, to ensure they are in working order. They may also review building plans and layouts to verify the proper installation of fire safety equipment and provide clear evacuation routes.

In Indiana, fire inspectors often focus on buildings’ compliance with the Indiana Fire Code, which includes specific provisions for fire alarms, extinguishers, and escape routes. 

Similarly, in Illinois, inspectors work under the guidelines set by the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal, ensuring buildings meet the Illinois Fire Prevention Code.

What is a Fire Inspection?

Allegiant Fire Protection - Annual Fire Inspection Notes

A fire inspection ensures a building or property complies with established fire safety codes and standards.

For commercial fire alarm systems, inspections, testing, and maintenance are crucial for compliance with the National Fire Protection Association Standards – NFPA 72, Chapter 14. 

Inspection frequencies may vary based on the equipment and local AHJ rules but typically include weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, annual, and even up to every ten years, performed by licensed fire protection technicians.

Professional fire inspectors conduct this process, which involves thoroughly reviewing the premises, focusing on systems and measures in place for fire prevention and safety. 

Inspectors assess the functionality and maintenance of fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers to check that they are in optimal working condition.

The inspection evaluates the building’s adherence to safety codes, including marked and unobstructed fire exits, adequate emergency lighting, and proper signage.

Inspectors also verify the safe storage of flammable materials and check for any structural or operational hazards that could increase the risk of a fire outbreak.

Following the inspection, property owners receive a detailed report highlighting any deficiencies or violations and providing recommendations for improvement.

Indiana Fire Inspection Regulations

In Indiana, the fire inspection process is managed by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), mainly through its Division of Fire and Building Safety

This division oversees various aspects of fire safety, including code enforcement and inspections. The State Fire Marshal, appointed by the governor, oversees fire prevention, protection services, and inspections​​.

The IDHS Code Enforcement Section is responsible for providing building and fire safety-related inspections, training, and guidance throughout the state. 

This includes working with local building and fire departments to offer educational training, interpret building and fire codes, and assist with on-site inspection needs.

Illinois Fire Inspections

In Illinois, the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) conducts fire inspections through its Division of Fire Prevention and Building Safety

This division is responsible for ensuring buildings comply with the NFPA 101, Life Safety Code (2015 edition). It focuses primarily on state-licensed day care centers, group homes, educational occupancies, and the initial inspection of aboveground tanks holding flammable and combustible liquids and other specific facilities.

The division enforces various acts related to fire equipment, sprinkler contractor licensing, pyrotechnics, and furniture fire safety. It also inspects buildings and exhibits at county and state fairs​​.

In Chicago, specifically, the Chicago Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Bureau safeguards the city against the loss of life and property. 

The bureau conducts annual inspections across four area offices (North, South, West, and Central), focusing on general inspections of businesses, schools, hotels, public places of assembly, and high-rise occupancies to ensure compliance with municipal fire codes​​.

For the state of Illinois, fire extinguishers, alarms, and sprinkler systems must be tested annually.

Understanding the Reason for Your Fire Inspection

First and foremost, it’s important to remember ​why​ the fire department is coming to inspect your business: to make sure there are no safety hazards in your building. Knowing the purpose of the inspection is vital to preparation. After all, your goal in passing the inspection is to mitigate potential hazards, and we recommend keeping this in mind while you prepare your business for inspection.

Fire inspection requirements vary from city to city and state to state. The frequency, inspection type, and procedural steps will likely differ depending on your business’s location.

You’ll also want to understand your jurisdiction’s codes since the inspection focuses on bringing your business “up to code.” This way, you can remedy a problem before it becomes costly. For example, if you know that you don’t have the proper fire alarm, you can fix this issue before ​the fire inspector comes and avoid the extra red tape and a potential fine.

How Do You Prepare for a Fire Inspection?

After reviewing the fire codes and requirements for your business’s jurisdiction, you’ll want to complete a brief inspection of things your fire inspector will look for, such as:

1. Access and Premises

  • Building address should be visible from the street
  • Make sure exterior entrances are clear
  • Fire hydrants should be accessible and visible

2. Means of Egress

  • Make sure exit doors are visible, accessible and functional
  • Exit doors should open easily from the inside without a key or any special instructions
  • All required fire doors should be self-closing

3. Electrical

  • Make sure circuits are labelled on control panels
  • Electrical panels need at least 30 inches of clear space in front of them for better access
  • All extension cords must be in good condition, used only for small devices and grounded
  • Extension cords must only be used for temporary power
  • Cover plates need to be installed on all electrical receptacles

4. Egress Lighting

  • All exit routes should be properly illuminated while the building is occupied
  • Double check to make sure emergency lighting units are operable and sufficient to light means of egress
  • All exit signs should be illuminated and their back-up batteries should be tested to ensure functionality

5. Fire Extinguishers 

  • As a guideline, fire extinguishers should be installed within 75 feet of all areas of the building, and they should be visible and accessible
  • Make sure extinguishers meet the minimum rating and are properly installed at the correct height on the wall (no more than five feet above the floor)
  • Extinguishers should have been inspected within the last twelve months and tagged by an approved agency

6. Fire Alarm and Sprinkler Systems 

  • Make sure you are completing an annual fire alarm test and can provide documentation of completion
  • Check the height of storage below fire sprinklers (needs to be at least 18 inches below the sprinklers)
  • Similar to alarms, the fire sprinkler system needs to be checked annually, and you should keep records of completion for this and other fire suppression systems as well

7. Appliances and Devices

  • If your building uses portable heaters, there needs to be at least 36 inches of clear space on all sides of each heater
  • Gas-fired heat-producing appliances need properly installed and maintained vents

8. Building Areas

  • Make sure you are removing all trash from the building each day so it doesn’t accumulate
  • Oily or greasy rags need to be stored in approved metal containers
  • All combustible materials must be stored away from entrance and exit ways and in an orderly fashion
  • Combustible decorations should be treated and coated appropriately
  • Make sure interior finishes meet code requirements
  • All compressed gas tanks must be secured to prevent them from tipping over

9. Smoke and Carbon-Monoxide Alarms

  • Ensure that smoke detectors are operating correctly with batteries that work
  • Check that carbon-monoxide alarms are functional

Need Help Preparing for a Fire Inspection? Call Allegiant Fire Protection Today.

At Allegiant Fire Protection, we know fire inspections can bring stress and dread to a business owner’s life, especially if the inspector turns unannounced. With some preparation, you can help the annual inspection go as smoothly as possible. 

Allegiant Fire Protection LLC delivers exceptional fire protection services to businesses throughout the greater Chicago area. Services include the design, installation, and service of fire alarm systems and offsite alarm monitoring. The firm’s NICET-certified technicians also inspect and test all fire protection systems.

Allegiant Fire Protection is a privately held firm located in Aurora, IL. For more information about our services, click here or call 630-506-5535.

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