Published 22 Oct 2023
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 that can be found 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. Providing fire marshals a checklist that contains necessary information of your building or facility helps expedite the process and also ensures that all areas are inspected. This includes all rooms, exits, exit signs, locking devices, fire escapes, corridors, stairwells, etc. Another factor a fire marshall will inspect is the water supply of the place and determine if it’s adequate.
In this article
- Fire Marshal Role and Duties
- The Importance of an Inspection
- How to Get a Fire Marshal Inspection
- How to Prepare for an Inspection
- Fire Marshal Inspection Checklist
- What to Include in a Fire Marshall Inspection Report
- The Importance of Fire Inspection Checklists
- FAQs about Fire Marshal Inspections
- Fire Inspection Tool
- Fire Marshal Inspection Checklists
Fire Marshal Role and 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 Importance of an Inspection
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.
How to Get a Fire Marshal Inspection
To get a fire marshal inspection—typically requested by either the owner, administrator, or tenant of the building—an establishment must do the following:
- Reach out to their local fire inspection authority
- Inquire about the fire inspection requirements
- Schedule an inspection appointment
- Prepare for the fire marshal inspection by complying with the safety regulations and codes
- Be present and cooperative on the day of the fire inspection
- Address any violations found and request for reinspection
- Maintain constant compliance with fire safety rules
How to Prepare for an Inspection
To help you get ready for a fire marshal inspection, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide on what you should do before the scheduled assessment:
Step 1: Review local fire regulations
Familiarize yourself with specific fire safety requirements that your property must be able to meet. This will give you an idea if you’re already doing great or if you have a lot to improve on
Step 2: Create or use a checklist
Develop your own checklist or utilize ready-to-use ones based on the local fire requirements. This checklist should include all the necessary items that need to be inspected, making it easy for you to make sure that you’ll be able to cover everything.
Step 3: Review fire evacuation plans
Update fire evacuation plans, especially if the building is for public or commercial use. This will most likely be included in the fire marshal’s inspection as well.
Step 4: Maintain fire safety records
Keep accurate documentation of all your fire safety inspections, certifications, and other fire safety records. Inspectors might also look for these records during the inspection.
Step 5: Address any issues in advance
To avoid the need for reinspection and to ensure compliance with fire safety requirements, proactively resolve any issues, violations, or noncompliance observed even before the actual fire marshal inspection.
Fire Marshal Inspection Checklist
Here is a sample fire marshal inspection checklist for fire hazards to check at residential or rental properties:
- Clear all exits including fire escapes, hallways, corridors, stairwells, stairway doors, etc., so they are free from obstruction/storage, kept closed, not blocked or wedged open, and in good repair
- Make sure exit signs and emergency lighting are properly illuminated and operational
- Ensure locking devices or hardware allow immediate egress
- Check heating equipment meets requirements (no open flame or portable heaters)
- Make sure laundry is kept clean and all equipment free from lint and dust
- Maintain and regularly service fire extinguishers
- Check facility has an adequate water supply for fire fighting capability
- Check facility has an approved written fire and disaster plan
- Ensure electrical wiring and equipment are in safe condition
- Ensure electrical cords are in good condition, not frayed, spliced, or overloaded
- Check covers are provided for all electrical switches, convenience outlets, and junction boxes
- Make sure the alarm system is operative and properly tagged by licensed fire alarm company
- Inspect commercial range hood extinguisher and maintain by licensed personnel every six months
- Check gas heating units for proper operation by licensed personnel, as required
- Make sure the sprinkler system is operational
- Check to the best of my knowledge, the facility meets local fire safety requirements
This fire inspection checklist can be downloaded for free and as PDF just like the other SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) checklist templates.
What to Include in a Fire Marshall 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
The Importance of Fire Inspection Checklists
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.
FAQs about Fire Marshal Inspections
If a violation was found during the inspection, the fire marshal’s office should immediately contact you to let you know of the non-compliance. You must address this violation by promptly making necessary changes and making sure they won’t be recurring.
Fire marshal inspections are conducted annually. In some industries, it may be necessary to perform inspections more frequently.
In some countries, it is a legal requirement for workplaces to have a fire marshal or warden. The number of fire marshals depends on factors such as the business’ fire risk level, number of employees, and the shift patterns (if any).
Fire Inspection Tool
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 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
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.
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 SafetyCulture (iAuditor) fire marshal inspection checklists, can be edited to fit the requirements of local regulations.