The Concord Department of Fire and Life Safety does more than answer medical calls and put out fires. The Fire Department is also responsible for ensuring that approximately 3,500 commerical businesses and residential structures in Concord are inspected as well as the numerous new structures being built each year. The Fire Department Fire Prevention Division consists of One Bureau Chief, two Assistant Fire Marshals and three Fire Inspectors.
In order to be a Fire Inspector a person must first be a firefighter with the department. Next, he or she must complete the North Carolina Fire Inspector Level 1, 2 and 3 Courses and pass a State Certification Exam. Each level of certification allows them to complete inspections in every type of structure ranging from a gas station to a hospital or major industrial facility.
Fire Inspections are an issue of life safety, accident prevention and fire prevention. When making an inspection, fire officials are looking for the following:
- General Precautions Against Fire
- Emergency Preparedness
- Fire Protection Requirements
- Electrical Safety
- Exits and Entrance Requirements
- Flammable/Combustible Liquid Safety
- Hazardous Materials Operations and Storage
- Other specialized Operations and Storage
The North Carolina Fire Prevention Code was created to provide minimum fire and life safety standards for commercial businesses. North Carolina Law charges Fire Departments with the task of enforcing these standards. The Fire Prevention Bureau strives to fairly and consistently enforce the Fire Code. This ensures that there is a level playing field for everyone.
North Carolina Law requires all businesses, churches, educational institutions and multi-family residences to have regular fire inspections. Firms with hazardous materials, institutions, and multi-family residences are inspected annually. Industries and educational facilities (except public & private schools) are every two years while businesses; storage facilities, mercantile and churches are inspected every three years.
There is no charge for a fire inspection unless it is a special request which is accompanied with a $50 fee. However, if there are violations of the fire code a fee or fine may be accessed if the items are not corrected within a certain time period. For example, if an exit sign has a bulb that is burnt out. The inspector can give the facility 30 days to repair and replace the sign. A 2nd inspection will be scheduled to make sure the repair has been made. The inspector will continue to follow-up with the facility to make sure everything is corrected and a fine will be issued if it is not done within 70 days.
If the violation of the fire code is extreme the fire inspector during his/her first inspection may issue a fine. An example of this is when a fire inspector finds a locked or blocked exit door at the time of the inspection a $500 fine can be accessed.
The top ten Fire Code violations commonly found during Fire Inspections are:
- Fire extinguishers in the businesses failing to have annual inspections by a qualified extinguisher company.
- Improper Storage of combustibles too close to heat sources or ceilings and the improper storage and use of flammable liquids/ hazardous materials
- Extension cords used as substitute for permanent wiring and cords used in the path of travel (Cords can be damaged by walking on them).
- Exit problems such as; blocked aisles, blocked/locked doors, and blocked open fire doors.
- Inoperative Exit Signs and Emergency Lights due to burned out bulbs and bad batteries for back up in case of electrical power failure.
- Bad housekeeping without regular trash removal.
- Broken or defective electrical fixtures (broken, missing outlet or switch plate covers and electrical light fixtures).
- Blocked Electrical Circuit Breaker Panels (A minimum clearance of 30” is required in front and to the sides of panels).
- Fire Alarm, Fire Extinguishing and Sprinkler Systems failing to have routine servicing/testing by a qualified company.
- Street address numbers not displayed or proper size (Cabarrus County Ordinances requires address numbers to be a minimum of 6").
If you need more information or have questions concerning a Fire Inspection, Fire Prevention Bureau can be reached at 704-920-5517.
Click here to download a brochure on the Concord Department of Fire Life Safety Fire Inspection Program.
Have you recently had a fire inspection or other type of meeting with a Fire Inspector with the department? If so please take a few minutes to participate in our performance survey. Click here to access the survey.