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Published March 26th, 2020

What is a Fire Marshal Inspection?

A fire marshal inspection is the assessment of establishments by fire marshals checking for potential fire risks and other safety hazards. Fire marshal inspections help organizations discover and correct fire hazards, and stay in compliance with the applicable local fire codes.

Unmitigated fire hazards and non-compliance with fire codes puts people’s lives and property at risk and can lead to the shut down of business establishments.

This article will briefly discuss (1) who are fire marshals and what are their duties; ; (2) the cost of fire incidents in 2018 according to the NFPA (3) content of a fire marshal inspection report; (4) powerful tool to prepare for fire marshal inspections; (5) free fire marshal inspection checklists.

Fire Marshals: Who are they and What are Their Duties?

Apart from helping organizations prevent and mitigate fire incidents, fire marshals inform fire departments of their findings so that responders would know what to do. According to the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), fire marshals are also responsible for the enforcement of fire codes, investigation and reporting of fire and arson, and educating the public on fire protection. They also provide firefighter training and respond to hazardous material (HAZMAT) incidents, among others.

The Cost of Fire Incidents: In Numbers

From the 1.3 million fires that fire departments in the US responded to in 2018, 3,655 people died, 15,200 were injured, and $25.6 billion worth of property was lost according to the NFPA.

Fire marshals conduct inspections at least once a year with the aim to identify fire hazards and help mitigate fire risks that can result to these statistics.

Content of a Fire Marshal Inspection Report

Information gathered during the annual fire marshal inspection is crucial in enforcing fire codes and maintaining fire safety. A fire marshal inspection report typically includes the following information according to the NFPA:

  • Date of the inspection, fire inspector’s name, name and address of the property, and type of occupancy
  • Contact details of the owner/agent and the those interviewed during the inspection
  • Names of tenants of a multiple occupancy building (except for apartment building or office building that does not need to include every tenant)
  • Dimensions of the building including the height and type of construction
  • Stairways, elevators, utility shafts, and lack of vertical and horizontal cutoffs—those that could contribute to fire spread within buildings
  • Exposures and factors that may spread fire between buildings
  • Equipment for fire extinguishing, detection, and alarm
  • Adequacy and accessibility of exits
  • Employee fire safety organization
  • For industrial plants, identify the raw materials and the finished product/s
  • Common fire hazards—open flames, heaters, and inadequate wiring
  • Special fire hazards—hazardous materials (HAZMAT) and their storage, handling, use, and processes
  • Recommendations and any violations found

Taking cue from what fire marshals check and include on inspection reports, property managers and safety officers should take extra care to ensure that:

• Fire safety systems are in good working condition

Test fire detectors and alarms to check if they are working properly

• Signs are adequate, clear, and visible

Signages for the exit points, fire extinguishers, and hazardous materials should be easy to identify

• No blockage to fire exits and other egress points

Egress points should be well lighted and known by everyone in the establishment. Fire exits should allow access from the inside and locked from the outside only.

• Internal Fire Safety Inspections are done regularly

One good way to catch fire safety hazards or non-compliance with NFPA codes is to proactively look for them during regular internal safety inspections. Conduct risk assessments when there’s a change in the workplace to discover possible fire hazards and other risks such as faulty or overloaded electrical systems. Always be aware of the current occupancy in establishments to prevent exceeding the allowed occupancy.

The above mentioned should not only be looked into before or during the actual fire marshal inspection but should be overseen with vigilance to help prevent or prepare for possible fire incidents. Effective recordkeeping can also help safety officers keep track of implemented fire safety practices or instances of non-compliance and corrective action done year-round, not only after the annual fire marshal inspection.

Powerful Tool to Prepare for Fire Marshal Inspections

Fire marshal inspections are conducted at least once a year to ensure that establishments are compliant with enforced codes and standards, that fire risks and hazards are properly handled, and fire departments are well informed on discovered fire hazards. Conducting regular internal fire safety inspections not only help organizations to be proactive in keeping establishments safe but also stay compliant with fire codes. With iAuditor, a powerful safety inspection app by SafetyCulture, property managers and facility maintenance professionals are empowered to:

  • Automate assigning of regular internal safety inspections
  • Eliminate paper trails and convert fire marshal inspection checklists into smart, digital checklists
  • Take photos of safety issues and include annotations for better context
  • Instantly share data with key decision-makers and issue corrective actions
  • Save time and easily input and report checks for quicker verifications
  • Convenient recordkeeping of inspection reports


Erick Brent Francisco

SafetyCulture staff writer

As a staff writer for SafetyCulture, Erick is interested in learning and sharing how technology can improve work processes and workplace safety. Prior to SafetyCulture, Erick worked in logistics, banking and financial services, and retail.