Inspection & Fire Code Permit FAQ's

Where is the City of Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office?

The Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office has moved. The new location is 7110 NE 63rd St. (at Andresen) Phone: 360 487-7260. Deputy fire marshals work at various fire stations and are frequently in the field. If you wish to stop by and speak with a deputy fire marshal, please call first or make an appointment.

I'd like to move my business to a location in Vancouver. Before I sign a lease, how do I find out if the building has the fire code required construction feature for my business?

Contact the Vancouver Fire Marshal's Office. We should be able to provide you with information on what is required for your type of business and possibly what construction features your desired location already has.

What is a fire inspection?

The best way to fight fires is to prevent them before they start. Routine building inspections are one of the most effective ways to do that. Deputy Fire Marshals inspect commercial buildings, facilities and multi-family housing units. The purpose of the inspections is multifold:

  • To identify and correct fire code violations
  • To educate business and property owners about fire and life safety
  • To reduce fire loss (lower insurance rates)
  • To provide less demand on public emergency services by reducing fire and life safety risks

 

How can I prepare for the fire inspection?

Business owners and managers are encouraged to review their safety practices and obtain advice on current fire codes before the inspector arrives.

Check our list of common code violations and learn how to prepare for your inspection.

How often will my business be inspected?
The target frequency of inspection is every two years. However, due to staff reductions the actual frequently of inspection may be significantly longer.

Why are fees charged for a fire code inspection?

VFD does not have sufficient resources to fund a comprehensive code enforcement program.  With current public demand for resources and staffing, VFD cannot routinely inspect all buildings in the City.  The frequency of these inspections is one of the factors used by the insurance industry to determine insurance rates.  The purpose of establishing fees for fire safety inspections is to partially recover the cost of service delivery.  The fees implemented January 1, 2008 will offset costs but do not fully fund the fire safety inspection program.

How much is the inspection and permit fee?

The fee for your fire safety inspection is based on a schedule that considers occupancy type, occupancy use and square footage.  A single fee is charged for the initial inspection and the first re-inspection.  Subsequent re-inspections are charged an hourly rate of $65 per hour.  Some businesses may also require a fire code use permit(s), which also helps offset the cost of enforcing more detailed requirements of the fire code.  The permit fee is $60.

 

    Examples

    Small Business (Hair Salon, Office)
    Inspection Fee $60
    No Required Permits
    Total $60

    Medium Business (Repair Garage, Medical/Dental Office, Restaurant)
    Inspection Fee $60-$80
    Permit $60
    Total fee range $120-$140

    Large Business (Big Box Retail, Large Factory, Hazardous Materials)
    Inspection Fee $300-485
    Permit $60
    Total fee range $360-$545

What if I have questions about my fire code inspection and permit invoice?
Email your inspection fee and invoice questions to VANFMO@cityofvancouver.us, or call the City of Vancouver Fire Marshal's Office at 360-487-7260.

Can I pay with a credit card over the phone?
Yes, the City of Vancouver accepts payment of inspection and permit fees with Visa and Master Card, checks, money orders and cash. To make a payment with credit card by phone please call (360) 619-1154. Payments are accepted Monday-Friday 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. For proper credit, have your invoice number handy.

What are fire code permits?

There are two types of fire code permits required by the International Fire Code to establish a reasonable degree of safety in commercial facilities: operational permits and construction permits.

An operational permit allows the applicant to conduct an operation or business for which a permit is required by the fire code.

A construction permit allows the applicant to install or modify systems and equipment for which a permit is required by the fire code (i.e. fire alarm and sprinkler systems, hazardous materials storage, spraying and dipping operations).

Call the City of Vancouver's Community Development Department at 360-487-7200 for construction permits.

How do I get a fire code permit application?

    Call the Fire Marshal's Office at 360 487-7260 and request that an application be emailed, mailed or faxed to you, or
    By appointment, obtain a permit application in person at the Fire Marshal's Office, or
    Link to all permit applications directly from this site

How do I schedule an inspection?
It depends. Deputy fire marshals may stop by your business as part of an regular. If it is an inconvenient time for an inspection, the deputy fire marshal will schedule a more convenient inspection time. If you are a new business or require fire code use permits, call the City of Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office at 360 487-7260 Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. You will be referred to the deputy fire marshal responsible for the inspection of your business to determine whether one is needed at this time.

My temporary fire code use permit has expired. Can I renew it or get an extension?
Temporary permits cannot be renewed after the expiration date noted on the permit. A new temporary use permit and inspection must be obtained. To request an extension, contact the Fire Marshal's Office at 360 487-7260 between 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and speak directly with the Deputy Fire Marshal assigned to that specific fire inspection area.

When does my fire code permit expire? Do I need to renew it?
Your fire code operational permit is valid until the inspection process is initiated again by the fire department. (Exception- the use and/or type of business has changed or the permit conditions cannot be met). All "temporary permits" have a noted expiration date.

We've moved. Can I change the address of my permit?
Permits are not transferable. They are for the specified owner and address only. Once either changes, new permit(s) must be obtained.

I've sold my business. Can you send the invoices to the new owner?
No. Your permits are not transferable to the new owner of the business and therefore permit renewal invoices cannot be sent to the new owner. As soon as you notify the Permit Section staff in the Fire Marshal's Office (360 487-7260) that your business has been sold we will cancel existing permits and send permit applications to the new owner.

I just took over a business that has already secured Fire Department Permits. What do I need to do?

If you are the new owner of an existing business that has fire department permits, notify the Fire Marshal’s Office at 360 487-7260 as soon as possible.  Permits are non-transferable to new owners.

How do I cancel a permit I no longer need?

If you have determined that an existing permit is no longer required and you wish to cancel the permit, notify the Fire Marshal’s Office at 360 487-7260.  When we verify that the activity or operation does not require a permit we will terminate the permit.

How much time do I have to comply with the fire code?
A deputy fire marshal will issue you an inspection report detailing all the conditions that violate the fire code and could cause a fire and endanger life and/or property. These deficiencies must be corrected immediately. A re-inspection to verify the abatement of the deficiencies noted will be coordinated with the business owner and the deputy fire marshal. Failure to correct the deficiencies prior to the first re-inspection date will result in the issuance of a final correction notice and another date will be identified to verify compliance. Deficiencies not corrected on the second re-inspection may result in monetary civil penalties in accordance with VMC Title 22. These civil penalties will be above and beyond the inspection fees.

How do I request a special inspection or fire code consultation?
Property and business owners sometimes have safety concerns about their own operation or one that they have observed elsewhere. Please give us a call at 360-487-7260 and a deputy fire marshal will follow up.

How do I determine if there is an oil tank on my property, and whether or not it has been decommissioned?
City of Vancouver Community Development Department (CDD) can provide the information you need.  CDD will advise you if a permit was issued to install or replace a furnace at your property.  Since 1984, CDD issues permits to install and remove/decommission underground oil tanks.  Prior to 1984 permits were not required to install or remove underground heating oil tanks.  The CDD telephone number is 360-487-7200.

How do I inspect or test fire protection systems in my building (sprinkler, fire alarm, commercial kitchen hood, etc.)?
Due to complexities within the fire code and testing standards, the Fire Marshal’s Office requires contractors to have a City of Vancouver Endorsement to conduct semi-annual and annual inspection, testing and maintenance on fire protection systems.  Contractors are required to submit copies of these inspection, testing & maintenance reports to the Fire Marshal’s Office where deputy fire marshals review the reports for completeness.  Contractors who do not follow the appropriate testing standard are subject to enforcement penalties.

Test reports submitted by contractors are required to indicate if a complete test was conducted or reasons why only portions of the system were tested (i.e. customer did not want to pay for entire testing).  Incomplete reports or deficiencies marked on confidence reports will result in a special inspection and an additional fee.  Businesses are encouraged to find contractors who are qualified to inspect, test and maintain the system with adopted standards.

There is a $40 submission and review fee for inspection, testing and maintenance reports that is assessed annually for each type of system. Systems that require quarterly, semi-annual or a more frequent service will only be charged $40 per year.  There is no charge for the submission and review of the additional reports within a 12 month period.

 

FAQ-Inspection, 12/09/10