Published October 15th, 2020
What is a Fire Marshal Inspection?
A fire marshal inspection is the assessment done by fire marshals to check potential fire risks and other safety hazards in establishments. Fire marshal inspections help organizations detect and correct fire hazards and stay compliant with the applicable local fire codes. Unmitigated fire hazards and non-compliance with fire codes put people’s lives and property at risk and can lead to business suspensions or shutdowns.
This article will briefly discuss:
- what does it mean to be a fire marshal and what does a fire marshal do?;
- why is it important for fire marshals to perform annual inspections?;
- what details are included in a fire marshal inspection report?;
- why use a fire inspection checklist?;
- powerful tool to prepare for fire marshal inspections; and
- free fire marshal inspection checklists you can download, customize, and use.
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.
From the nearly 1.3 million fires that fire departments in the US responded last year, roughly 3,700 people died, 16,600 were injured, and $14.8 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.
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
A fire inspection checklist is a tool business owners can use to regularly verify compliance with fire safety requirements and help pass fire marshal inspections. Taking cue from what fire marshals check and include in inspection reports, property managers and safety officers should proactively prevent fires all year round and 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 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.
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 by SafetyCulture, a powerful safety inspection app, 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
Fire Marshal Inspection Checklists
Fire Marshal Inspection Checklist for Business
Use this fire marshal inspection checklist for business establishments to proactively assess the fire safety of the facility year-round and not only in preparation for the annual fire marshal inspection. Inspect the occupancy, building services, emergency lights, exit signs, alarms, fire extinguishers, hazardous areas, housekeeping, egress, and operational features.
This checklist uses smart logic to inform property managers and safety officers of potential points of focus that the fire department may need to know if non-compliant. Based on a candidate handbook from the NFPA for Fire Inspector I Certification Program, fire inspector candidates can also take a look at this checklist to have an idea of what entails practical exercises.
Fire Marshal Inspection Checklist for Schools
Use this fire marshal inspection checklist to conduct internal checks of schools for fire risks. Inspect the exterior, fire protection equipment, exits, classrooms, special-use rooms, hallways and lobbies, assembly areas (gym, cafeteria, etc), custodial, boiler room, and other points of focus. For this digitized checklist, any item with a “No” answer may need to be corrected before the fire marshal inspection. Take photos of issues found and assign corrective actions.
Fire Marshal Inspection Form
Use this 16-item fire marshal inspection form to check all residential/rental properties for fire hazards and ensure that the property remains compliant with local fire safety requirements. This digitized template, as well as other iAuditor fire marshal inspection checklists, can be edited to fit the requirements of local regulations.