How prepared are you for the next fire code inspection? Your local fire marshal can stop by at any time, but your doors must pass an annual fire door inspection.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires your fire doors to be checked each year to ensure you’re up to code.
ASSA ABLOY provides fire door inspection services if you need a qualified inspector to help you stay in compliance with code.
This guide shares everything that fire marshals look for in general inspections and what to expect in your fire door inspection, as well as common violations you can prevent.
Fire Code Inspection Guide: Be Prepared
One key thing to note about fire code inspections is that requirements may differ depending on your building’s doors, systems, and functionality. That’s why it’s important to look up fire codes for your building and industry on NFPA’s website.
Some of the areas to check before a fire code inspection include:
Clearances around each fire door
When doors must remain unlocked
What areas must have fire-rated doors
Gaskets, hardware, and other accessories are properly installed and are functional
How often professional maintenance must occur
What types of safety systems have to be installed
Where and how materials are stored
How electrical systems are used and labeled
Other details specific to your building that must adhere to fire code
One of the most important fire safety requirements for all inspections is to maintain a certain number of fire extinguishers. These are determined by your fire hazard level.
Annual Fire Door Inspection Checklist
Fire door inspections ensure that your building’s entryways won’t cause safety hazards in the future.
ASSA ABLOY has a very extensive fire code inspection program that includes inspection services and training. You’ll receive reports and guidance on maintaining your fire-rated doors, and you’ll access all of your data through our mobile app.
What to Expect from Door Hardware Inspection
NFPA 80 requires that both sides of swinging fire doors be inspected and tested annually. There are typically 13 points covered in any fire door inspection, including:
Door labels are clearly visible and readable.
No open holes, cracks, or breaks exist in the door's surface or its frame.
Vision light frames, glazing, and glazing beads are all intact and securely fastened in place.
The door, hinges, hardware, frame, and noncombustible threshold are secure, aligned, and in good working order without any signs of visible damage.
Door clearances do not exceed the clearances listed in NFPA 4.8.4 and 220.127.116.11.
None of your door’s parts are broken or missing.
If using a self-closing device, it must be operational so that the door completely closes when operated from the fully open position.
Latching hardware is fully functional and secures the door when it’s in a closed position.
If a coordinator is used with your door, the inactive leaf must close before the active leaf.
Auxiliary hardware items that limit operation or interfere with the door working properly are not installed on the door or frame.
No modifications were made to the door assembly that would void the label.
Your door also meets edge protection, edge seals, and gasketing requirements.
If you have signage on your door, it covers less than 5% of the door’s face and is not attached with mechanical fasteners.
Field inspection reports are required and include all of the information about your building, date of inspection, and the information of the inspector.
In addition to your annual door inspection, your building will also be inspected for safety and integrity. We’ve provided more guidance on what to expect from the fire marshal during these inspections below.
Don’t Forget to Check for Excessive Gaps
Did you know that gaps underneath, around, and in between your doors and frames could lead to code violations?
Excessive door gap solutions easily help you overcome issues with door gaps and also save thousands of dollars, as you can simply add on to your door rather than replacing everything.
Note: Code compliance updates from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for NFPA 80 indicate that fire door compliance violations also can cause CMS funding being denied, which has had a serious financial impact for hospitals in the past.
What Fire Marshals Look For Outside
Workplace safety is important. Fire codes exist to ensure businesses meet requirements to keep everyone safe.
While fire-rated doors have detailed inspections, you also want to make sure you’re staying up to code and doing things right everywhere else.
Here is a quick look into what fire marshals are checking for on the outside of your building.
Your street address is clearly marked on the front of your building and is easily visible from the street.
Have a key vault to store building keys in that will allow the fire marshal and fire department to access your building if a fire begins during non-business hours.
Make sure any and every fire hydrant on your property is not blocked by landscaping or any other structure. Remember, you must maintain a three-foot clearance space on all sides of the hydrant.
The fire lanes in front of your building MUST be kept clear of any and all obstructions.
What Fire Marshals Look For Inside
Modern construction codes help prevent losses from fires, which is why it’s so important to keep your workplace up to code inside and out. These are some of the important steps a fire marshal takes to ensure your business is following code inside.
Be sure that all exit doors can easily be opened by ONE person. If the doors are locked, make certain they do not require any special training, keys or equipment to open efficiently.
Keep all aisles, walkways, stairways and paths leading to exits clear of debris and obstructions.
Be certain your emergency lights and exit signs work properly in both normal and emergency power modes.
Make sure your fire extinguishers are properly charged and easily accessible in case of an emergency.
Stay current with your fire extinguisher and suppression system inspections.
12 Common Fire Code Violations to Avoid
If you manage any facility, you’ll have to pass a fire safety inspection. Some of the most common violations recorded in these inspections include:
1. Extension Cords
An extension code is meant to be a temporary fix, so having a number of extension cords plugged in in one place can lead to a severe code violation. Attaching extension cords to one another, passing through walls, and stretching across walkways are some of the ways you can guarantee a fine.
2. Blocked Exits or Fire Doors
It’s important to keep all exits and doors unblocked at all times. If you constantly see deliveries left in the hallway or if boxes are being stored in front of doorways even if it's a few short hours, you could cause a life-threatening problem in the event of a fire.
3. Self-Closing Exits
You can’t block an exit, but you also can’t leave it open. All exists must be self-closing.
4. Exit Signs and Faulty Lighting
You know the gas station with the sign that just has the X and T lit up on the EXIT sign? They’re due for a fire code inspection. Your fire safety signage has to be maintained and must completely light up. Non-illuminated and blocked exit signs are also common ways to violate fire codes.
Commercial buildings are required to have illuminated, unblocked exit signs. In addition, most buildings are also required to have emergency lights that stay lit in a power outage for 90 minutes. These must be tested and certified annually to pass any fire safety inspection.
5. Improper Storage in Riser and Fire Pump Rooms
So you think you’ve found another storage closet? Actually it’s your fire pump and riser room, and these are not storage closets for mops, brooms, and other items. In fact, it’s a huge violation and could cost you big time if found during your inspection. These rooms are only meant to store fire protection equipment.
6. Blocked Valves or Exterior Access Points
Do you have landscaping, trees, dumpsters, or pallets that are in the way of exterior fire department connections (FDC) and valves? These are access points that must stay unblocked.
7. Wrong Fire Sprinkler Systems
Are you in a building with the wrong fire sprinklers? You’ll know by your next fire code inspection. Local fire codes determine what fire sprinklers are necessary by your business purpose. If you turn a warehouse into a big box store, you may not have the right fire sprinkler systems. These sprinkler systems must match your building design and hazard classification.
8. Fire Extinguisher Issues
Properly maintaining your fire extinguishers will keep you out of trouble. Whether it’s missing fire extinguishers, broken nozzles, or unsafe storage containers, your fire extinguishers must be up to code by NFPA 10, but they also must pass OSHA inspections.
9. Broken Smoke Detectors
If you have a large business, you know it can be difficult keeping up with and finding faulty smoke detectors. That’s why you have to check and service your smoke detectors annually. It’s also important to replace batteries in smoke detectors every year to avoid issues. You can set a specific date each year to ensure these detectors are checked and batteries are changed annually.
10. Fire Alarms or Pull Station Not Working
You’ll need to test your fire alarms and pull stations annually to ensure they’re still working, but you also must ensure that fire alarm pull stations are not blocked in any way. You’ll need a licensed technician to test your fire alarms and ensure that your fire protection system is working properly.
11. Hanging Items from Sprinkler Heads or Pipes
Ever seen someone hang snowflakes from the fire sprinkler heads? This is a major violation, but it happens all the time. Whether it’s a hotel room, workplace, or other business area, fire sprinkler heads must be clear of any obstruction. You cannot hang anything from fire sprinkler heads, including safety signage.
12. Improper Records
Lastly, you want to maintain all of your fire protection system and inspection records that show written proof of services, maintenance, and annual inspections. You likely work with several technicians and contractors to maintain, repair, and replace different safety systems, so it’s important to keep this paperwork in one place and also digitize these documents to ensure that your records are always accessible.
Need Help with Your Fire Inspection?
ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions provides fire inspection solutions and training. All you need to do is contact a consultant to get started. We also offer a number of other helpful articles on products like excessive door gap solutions.