Fire Inspections

Vancouver Deputy Fire Marshals and Fire Code Officers inspect businesses, schools and facilities under the authority of the International Fire Code. The Fire Code edition is the one adopted and amended by the State of Washington and by the Vancouver City Council by ordinance under title 16 of the Vancouver Municipal Code.

In additional to our regular inspection intervals, the Fire Marshal’s Office also responds to complaints alleging violations of the fire and life safety provisions of the Fire Code.

Apartment Owners and Landlords Pre-Inspection Checklist

We have provided some information below that we hope will protect your renters, your property and you livelihood. Owners and managers are key individuals for the prevention of fire loss. We encourage you to:

  1. Actively & regularly educate your tenants about the prevention of fires through handouts, meetings and signs.
  2. Maintain portable fire extinguishers, automatic fire protection systems, exit signs and emergency escape lighting.  
  3. Encourage or require renter’s insurance where possible.
  4. Contact us if you need assistance.
Business Pre-Inspection Checklist

Fire Marshal Pre-Inspection Checklist

The following are some of the most common fire code violations found during inspections. Please be sure to walk through your facility and correct any conditions that meet these requirements.


  • Combustible material shall not be stored in boiler rooms, mechanical rooms or electrical equipment rooms. (IFC 315.2.3)
  • Combustible materials shall not be stored in exits or exit enclosures. (IFC 315.2.2)
  • Outside dumpster shall be kept at least 5 feet away from combustible walls, windows, doors, overhangs and lid shall be closed. (IFC 304.3.3)
  • Storage shall be at least 2 feet below the ceiling or 18 inches below sprinkler heads. (IFC 315.2.1)
  • Compressed gas containers, cylinders and tanks shall be secured to prevent falling. (IFC 3003.5.3)


  • Exit ways and doors shall not be visually or physically obstructed. (IFC 1030.3 & .6)
  • Exit ways and doors shall be unlocked when building is occupied. (IFC 1008.1.9)
  • Exit signs shall be illuminated. (IFC 1011.2)
  • Emergency lighting systems shall be functional. (IFC 1006.3)
  • Fire assemblies shall not be obstructed or otherwise impaired from their proper operation at any time. (IFC 703.2)
  • Main door shall have a sign above door stating “THIS DOOR TO REMAIN UNLOCKED WHEN BUILDING IS OCCUPIED.” unless approved panic hardware is in place (IFC 1008.1.9.3)

Fire Protection

  • All fire lanes, hydrants, fire department connections (F.D.C.) or control valves shall be clear and unobstructed. (IFC 503.4 & 507.5.4)
  • Sprinkler or fire alarm systems shall be serviced annually. (IFC 903.5 & 907.9.2)
  • Fire protection systems shall be maintained in an operative condition at all times and repaired where defective. (IFC 907.9.1)

  Commercial Cooking Processes

  • A Class K fire extinguisher shall be mounted within 30 feet of commercial food equipment using vegetable or animal oils (IFC 904.11.5)
  • Commercial cooking systems shall be serviced semi-annually. (IFC 904.11.6.2)
  • Hoods, grease removal devices, fans, ducts and other appurtenances shall be cleaned to bare metal. Cleaning shall be recorded, and records shall state the extent, time and date of cleaning. Records shall be maintained on premises. (IFC 609.3.3)

Building Maintenance

  • The building address shall be clearly visible from the street, minimum 4 inches in height with a contrasting background. (IFC 505.1)
  • Provide Knox box for buildings with supervised fire protection equipment (IFC 506.1)
  • Provide keys for Knox box (IFC 506.2)
  • Fire-resistance-rated construction shall be maintained. (IFC 703.1)
  • Provide legible & permanent sign with occupant load posted in conspicuous location. (IFC 1004.3)


  • A working space of not less than 30 inches wide (or width of equipment), 36 inches deep and 78 inches high shall be provided in front of electrical service equipment. No storage within this designated work space. (IFC 605.3)
  • Relocatable power taps shall be polarized or grounded equipped with over-current protection and shall be listed. (IFC 605.4.1)
  • Relocatable power taps shall be directly connected to a permanently installed receptacle. (IFC 605.4.2)
  • Relocatable power tap cords and extension cords shall not extend through walls, ceilings, floors, under doors or floor coverings, or be subject to environmental or physical damage. (IFC 605.4.3)
  • Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be a substitute for permanent wiring. (IFC 605.5)

 Portable Fire Extinguishers

  • A minimum of one 2A-10:BC portable fire extinguisher shall be provided within 75 feet of travel distance from anywhere in the business on each floor. (IFC 906.3 – NFPA 10)
  • Fire extinguishers shall not be obstructed and shall be in a conspicuous location. (IFC 906.5)
  • When visually obstructed, an approved means shall be provided to indicate location. (IFC 906.6)
  • Fire extinguisher shall be mounted on wall with hanger. (IFC 906.7)
  • Fire extinguishers shall be serviced and tagged annually by a certified individual 906.2

Inspection Frequently Asked Questions

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

The Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office is located at 7110 N.E. 63rd St., Vancouver, WA 98661.

Phone: 360-487-7260. Deputy Fire Marshals and Fire Code Officers work at various fire stations and are frequently in the field. If you wish to stop by and speak with a staff member, 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. As an alternative, the City of Vancouver offers a free “Pre-lease” meeting service wherein City Staff can meet you at a site and explain all potential financial impacts of leasing a space before you commit.

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. Fire Marshal Officers inspect commercial buildings, facilities and multi-family housing units. The purpose of the inspections is:

  • To identify and correct fire code violations as required by law
  • To educate business and property owners about fire & life safety
  • To reduce potential 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. We offer pre-inspection checklists which can prove very helpful in making the inspection quick and efficient.

How often will my business be inspected?

The target frequency of inspection is every year. However, the actual frequency of inspection may be longer.

Why are fees charged for a fire code inspection?

The Vancouver Fire Department does not have sufficient resources to fund a comprehensive Fire Code enforcement program. 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.

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. The current fee table can be found here. A single fee is charged for the initial inspection and the first re-inspection.  Subsequent re-inspections are charged an hourly rate.  Some businesses may also require a fire code operational permit or permits. A separate fee is charged for operational permits, which also helps offset the cost of enforcing more detailed requirements of the fire code.

What if I have questions about my fire code inspection or permit invoice?

Email your invoice questions to or call the City of Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office at 360-487-7260.

Can I pay with a credit card online or over the phone?

Yes. By following the instructions included with your invoice you can securely pay your invoice online. The City of Vancouver also accepts payment of 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 throughFriday 8 a.m. to 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). Construction permits are processed through the City of Vancouver Community Development Department.

How do I get a Fire Code Operational application?

How can I schedule an inspection?

If you have a specific need for an inspection, you may contact our office and request one.

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. to 4:30 p.m. and speak directly with the Fire Marshal Officer assigned to that specific fire inspection area.

When does my fire code permit expire? Do I need to renew it?

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 Fire Marshal Officer assigned to that specific fire inspection area.

Your fire code operational permit is valid until the inspection process is initiated again by the fire department (at least a year). Causes for automatic expiration include: A change in business ownership, a change in business location, and changes of conditions specific to the permit. Some fire code operational permits are temporary in nature. All “temporary permits” have a noted expiration date.

I’ve sold my business. Can you send the invoices to the new owner?

No. Your invoices are not transferable to the new owner of the business.

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?

IIf 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 do I cancel a permit I no longer need?

IIf 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 Fire Marshal Officer 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 are required to be corrected immediately. A re-inspection to verify the abatement of the deficiencies noted will be coordinated with the business owner. Failure to correct the violations prior to the first re-inspection date will result in additional inspection fees and the issuance of a final correction notice. Violations 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 and start at $500 per violation.

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 call or office at 360-487-7260 and a Fire Marshal Officer will follow up with you.

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 can provide the information you need. They can advise you if a permit was issued to install or replace or remove an oil tank or oil furnace at your property. Since 1984, the City has required permits to install and remove/decommission underground oil tanks. Prior to 1984 permits were not required to install or remove underground heating oil tanks.  That office can be reached at 360-487-7200.

How do I get fire protection systems in my building tested to comply with the requirements of the Fire Code (sprinkler, fire alarm, commercial kitchen hood, kitchen exhaust cleaning, fixed fire protection systems, 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 annual, semi-annual, quarterly and monthly inspection, testing and maintenance on fire protection systems. Contractors are required to submit copies of these inspection, testing and maintenance reports to the Fire Marshal’s Office where Officers review the reports for completeness. Contractors who do not follow the appropriate testing standard are subject to enforcement penalties and or revocation of their endorsement to perform this work inside the City limits of Vancouver.

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 $44 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 $44 per year. There is no charge for the submission and review of the additional reports within a 12-month period.

In Clark County, the fee for the report review is assessed to the contractor who submits the report. They typically pass that fee on to the customer as a line item. You should not see a line item for a Fire Marshal review fee in your service provider’s invoice if you are inside the City limits of Vancouver.