Common violations found in businesses

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Fire inspections of San Angelo businesses are conducted on an annual basis. 

The following is a list of common items found during fire inspections of local businesses as recognized by the City of San Angelo’s adoption of the 2015 International Fire Code. This list is not cumulative.

The use of a building determines the occupancy type, and the occupancy type determines the requirements. Because each building is different in size, shape, and occupancy type, the requirements for one occupancy type may be different than another.

*Note: following each common item is the specific section of the adopted fire code where the code violation can be located. IFC denotes the International Fire Code followed by the section number.

Contact a Fire Inspector at 325-657-4358 if you have questions about your business.

Exits             

  • Means of Egress: Combustible materials shall not be stored in exits or exit enclosures. (IFC 315.3.2)

  • Emergency Lights: Exit signs must be appropriately illuminated at all times. The bulb(s) must be lit when the test button is pushed. If the light(s) do not work, the battery may need to be replaced. (IFC 604.6)

  • Exit Signs: All bulbs in exit signs need to function. Many exit signs are equipped with a battery back-up in case of loss of power. Push the test button on the side or bottom of the exit sign to check if the battery and D/C lights are operating. If not, it is probably the battery that needs replacing and not the bulbs. (IFC 1025.2.6.1)

  • Exit hardware: Depending upon the occupant load and the type of business, certain hardware may be required. Main entrance/exit doors shall be readily openable without a key, tool, special knowledge, or effort, any time a building is occupied. Exit doors are to remain unlocked during business hours. (IFC 1010.1.9.3)

  • Obstructed Exits: Exit pathways and aisles for the public shall not be less than 36” in width and must be clear at all times. (IFC 1017.2 and 1028)

Fire Department Access

  • Key Box: If there is a key box (also known as a Knox Box) for your business, make sure a working key is located in the box. (IFC 506.1)

  • Addressing: Numbers all new and existing buildings must be plainly visible and legible from the street or road fronting the property. Numbers shall be a minimum of 6” high, with a contrasting background. (IFC 505.1)

  • Faded Fire Lanes: When required, fire lanes shall be appropriately marked in white lettering with the words NO PARKING-FIRE LANE with a contrasting red background. It is recommended to use a UV-type paint for this application to reduce fading. (IFC 503.3) 

Protection

  • Extinguishers: Service must be performed annually by a licensed fire extinguisher contractor. Most businesses need a minimum 2A size/type extinguisher for every 3,000 square feet. Occupants need to be within 75 feet of an extinguisher. Extinguishers need to be mounted with the top of the extinguisher no greater than three to five feet off of the floor in a highly visible and accessible location. (IFC 906)

  • Fire Alarm Systems: A local (unmonitored) system needs to be serviced quarterly. A monitored system needs to be serviced annually. (IFC 907-8.5 and Chapter 10 of NFPA 72)

  • Fire-rated Doors: Self-closing doors shall not be blocked, obstructed, nor made inoperable. Self-closing doors are those with a fire rating, meeting a fire rating and equipped with closing devices or self-closing hinges. (IFC 703.2)

  • Fire Sprinkler Systems: Sprinkler systems require annual inspection and servicing. A inspection/service tag is required to be placed on the sprinkler system. Clear access shall be maintained at a minimum of three feet of the riser. A sprinkler head cabinet should be mounted next to the riser, containing a sprinkler head, wrench, and a minimum of six spare sprinkler heads. (IFC 901, NFPA 25.5.4.1)

  • Signage: On doors to sprinkler riser room or to the fire alarm panel, place “Riser Room” or “FACP” (Fire Alarm Control Panel) sign on door, using a minimum of two inch red letters. (IFC 509.1)

  • Sprinkler Heads: There needs to be a minimum of 18” clearance around and beneath sprinkler heads spanning entirely across a room or space. (IFC 315.3.1)

  • Combustible materials in direct proximity to the ceiling: In buildings without sprinklers, the minimum distance to the ceiling is 24”.  Combustibles shall not be stored under unprotected stairways. (IFC 315.3.1)

Utilities

  • Electrical Panels: A working space of no less than 30” in width, 36” in depth, and 78” in height shall be provided in front of electrical service equipment. The working space shall not be less than the width of the panel. Holes in electrical panels shall be covered with blank plastic covers. Do not place tape over circuit breakers (IFC 605.3). Electrical rooms shall be appropriately identified. (IFC 605.3.1)

  • Extension Cords: Extension cords are for temporary use only and are not to be used as a substitute for permanent wiring. Extension cords cannot pass through doorways, walls, floors, or ceilings, nor under floor coverings unless protected in conduit. Extension cords shall be used only with portable appliances and grounded. Extension cords shall show no signs of damage and not be plugged into each other. (IFC 605)

  • Open Junction Boxes: Open junction boxes and open-wiring splices shall be prohibited. Approved covers shall be provided for all switch and electrical outlet boxes. (IFC 605.6)

  • Surge Protectors run in succession (piggy-backing): This is a common electrical violation. Surge protectors (power taps) shall not be plugged into each. They shall be equipped with over-current protection and must be plugged into an outlet. An alternative to this issue is to have a licensed electrician install more receptacles for electrical use. (IFC 605.4 and 605.4.2)

  • Storage in Equipment/Electrical Rooms: Combustible material shall not be stored in boiler rooms, mechanical rooms, elevator rooms, or electrical equipment rooms. (IFC 315.3.3)

Kitchens

  • Combustibles too Close to Heat Producing Devices: Keep combustibles a minimum of 30” from a propane or natural gas appliance and 18” from an electrical appliance. Keep combustibles at least six inches from baseboard heaters. Appliances include furnaces and water heaters, and portable heaters. (IFC 305.1)

  • Cooking Hood and Duct Cleaning: Hoods, grease-removal devices, fans, ducts, and other appurtenances shall be cleaned at intervals necessary to prevent the accumulation of grease. Cleanings shall be recorded, and records shall state the extent, time, and date of cleaning. Records shall be kept on the premises. (IFC 609)

  • Cooking Hood and Duct Extinguishing System: Dry chemical extinguishing systems shall be inspected and tested for proper operation at 6 month intervals. Clean agent systems shall be inspected and tested at 12 month intervals. (IFC 904)

General

  • Space Heaters: Portable, electric space heaters shall not be operated within 3 feet (914 mm) of any combustible materials. Portable, electric space heaters shall be operated only in locations for which they are listed. Additionally, tip-proof units are recommended. Some businesses prohibit the use of space heaters by policy.

  • Unprotected Ceilings: Keep ceiling tiles in place or replace when damaged. Fire spreads rapidly through holes or openings in ceilings. Ceiling tiles are a part of your fire resistance-rated ceiling. Seal all holes in ceilings and walls and keep attic-access lids in place. (IFC 703.1)

  • Pressurized Cylinders: Cylinders or tanks, whether empty or full, need to be chained/secured in such a way so they cannot tip over. (IFC 5303.5.3)

  • Waste Accumulation: Combustible waste material, creating a fire hazard, shall not be allowed to accumulate in buildings or structures or upon premises. (IFC 304.1)