A fire marshal can shut your business down if a serious violation is found after a fire safety inspection. You could also face hefty fines depending on the type of violation and other applicable regulations to your business. Doing regular inspections and keeping your building and fire protection system up to date are the best ways to prevent potential business shutdowns.
This article will discuss the key things you need to know about failed fire inspections and fire code violations including what to do to avoid them.
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Common Fire Code Violations That Could Contribute to the Reasons Why a Fire Marshal Would Shut Your Business Down
Below are common fire safety code violations from the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), which is usually the fire marshal, that could contribute to business shutdowns:
- Blocked fire doors, exits, and exit signs
- Blocked fire department connections (FDCs) and valves
- Flickering, faulty, or non-illuminated exit signs
- Inadequate emergency lighting
- Improperly stored fire protection equipment
- Storing non-fire-protection equipment in fire pump and riser rooms
- Installing the wrong fire sprinkler system
- Missing, poorly maintained, or outdated fire protection system
- Operable but not up-to-code fire safety devices
- Faulty smoke detectors
- Inoperable fire sprinklers and alarms
- Hanging items on fire sprinklers and pipes
- Insufficient clearance around fire sprinklers
- Damaged, missing, or expired fire extinguishers
- Improperly ventilated appliances
- Missing or incomplete documentation of inspections, repairs, and maintenance activities
- Connecting two or more extension cords
- Overloaded electrical sockets
- Not deploying a fire watch during prolonged fire protection system maintenance activities
NOTE: Many violations are minor and can be avoided through regular inspections before a fire marshal discovers them and imposes a fine against you.
Read our blog about 11 common fire code violations and how to prevent them for a more detailed discussion.
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What Happens If You’ve Failed a Fire Inspection and the Fire Marshal Found a Violation?
After reviewing the fire inspection report, the fire marshal will provide a written notice of violation. The notice includes the types of violations and the needed corrections to remedy any identified problems. You will also be given a compliance schedule to deal with the violation. The timeline will vary depending on the severity of the offense.
Other Things to Note:
For minor technical violations, fire marshals often give you time to fix the issue and follow-up inspections are not always necessary.
For severe violations that require immediate action, reinspection within 72 hours usually follows. Situations requiring the building to be evacuated until the issue is resolved are among the worst violations that could cost you the biggest fines.
Penalties for Fire Code Violations
The consequences of fire code violations will vary per jurisdiction. Penalties can start from $500 to $2,500+ and could increase daily if the problem goes unresolved. Repeated violations could lead to heavier fines and even complete business shutdowns.
NOTE: The fire marshal can also require a fire watch after a building inspection.
You might also need to deploy a fire watch if the fire marshal requires it to respond to any fire hazard that has been discovered. Situations that may need a fire watch include malfunctioning fire safety devices. This is to protect the building occupants as well as your property and assets from the potential dangers of fire.
Tips for Preparing for a Fire Marshal Visit to Avoid Violations
Best Tip: Perform regular inspections to catch minor problems early on before they get worse and your fire marshal discovers them during a fire inspection.
Being well-prepared for a fire marshal visit saves you from potential violations that could result in the closure of your business either temporarily or permanently. One of the best ways to do this is to go through the fire marshal inspection checklist to make sure that your building complies with fire safety codes.
Some of the items included in a fire marshal inspection checklist are:
- Fire exits
- Emergency lighting
- Exit signs
- Fire alarms
- Smoke detectors
- Fire doors
- Fire extinguishers
- Fire sprinklers
- Fire sprinkler system water supply
- Electrical systems
- Fire suppression systems
- Fire alarm panels
- Electrical panels
- Flammable materials
- Maximum occupancy limits
- Electrical sockets
- Extension cords
- Heating equipment
- Fire emergency plan
Other Things to Know About Fire Marshals & Fire Safety Code Violations
What to Know About A Fire Marshal’s Duties & Responsibilities
Fire marshals are government employees employed by your local fire department to conduct fire investigations. They are responsible for enforcing fire codes in your area and are considered law enforcement officers. They help keep your property up-to-code to protect your building and the lives of people from fire hazards by identifying high-risk areas and guiding you in addressing potential issues immediately.
Fire marshals can also order fire watches, issue citations and fines for fire code violations, and require corrective actions within a specific timeframe. They can also shut your business down for violations that are considered severe such as exceeding the allowed human occupancy level.
Despite these, you should view fire marshals as partners in ensuring your business’s success because they help you stay compliant with building codes and regulations. This helps in protecting your business’s reputation and avoiding losing customers that could damage your company.
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Fire marshal duties and responsibilities include inspecting buildings, assessing fire risks, identifying fire hazards, imposing fines, ordering fire watches, investigating fires, and more. They enforce local and state fire codes to ensure the safety of buildings against fire hazards.
Among the things that you should not do during a fire include breaking windows, using elevators, running, going back for your belongings, opening hot doors, and hiding.
What happens next after a failed fire safety inspection depends on the severity of the violation. The fire marshal may require you to fix the issue within a specified time frame, issue citations, impose fines, order a fire watch, and/or shut down your business.
The standard response to a fire alarm is to evacuate the building immediately and follow evacuation procedures. Go to the nearest emergency exit and don’t re-enter the building until it is safe to do so.
Fire marshals not only inspect your building for fire hazards but also identify violations and can shut down your business if the violation is severe. Proactively preventing fire hazards through regular inspections and fixing them before the fire marshal discovers them is the best way to prevent business shutdowns.
Hire Scout Security’s professional fire watch services in the Denver Metro and Colorado Springs areas to avoid violations and potential business shutdowns. We help you stay compliant with fire safety codes to keep your business running. Reach out to us now!