For new or renovated structures—except one- and two-family dwellings—compliance with the Fire Code is required before issuance of a use and occupancy permit. These inspections are scheduled automatically as part of the permit process.
The following information is designed to make your inspection go smoothly. Please make the appropriate contractors aware of this information. Following the tips in this section should help you avoid many common obstacles to getting an inspection completed in a timely manner.
Schedule a request for an inspection by calling the Fire Marshal's Office at 410-887-4880. Please call at least three working days in advance of the desired inspection date. Inspection requests should be made by the permit holder.
What You Need For the Inspection
Approved plans—especially those pertaining to sprinkler inspections—must be kept on site at all times for use by inspectors. Approved plans will have a stamp and signature from the Baltimore County Plans Review Office. Copies of plans are not acceptable. Shop drawings and other plans without stamps and signature are not acceptable.
Comment letters from the County's Plans Review Office are part of your approved plans and must be kept on site at all times for use by inspectors. Make sure you read them thoroughly; these letters often contain important information not found on the plans themselves.
Construction must match the approved plans. If changes are made to construction or systems, plans must be revised through the County's Permit Processing Center. Revised approved plans, with stamp and signature, must be on site for inspections. Deviations without revised approved plans require approval of the Fire Marshal.
The Fire Marshal typically performs an inspection and hydrostatic test of the water line.
Above-ground or underground tanks (and related water lines for these tanks) for sprinkler system water supply or for drafting by fire apparatus for manual water supply must be inspected by the Fire Marshal and be subjected to an air test witnessed by the Fire Marshal.
Call the Fire Marshal's Office at 410-887-4880 to schedule these tests prior to placement of the tank.
Sprinkler systems must be installed in accordance with approved plans and applicable National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, as adopted or modified by the Maryland Fire Prevention Code and the Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code, and manufacturer's installation instructions.
A permit is required from the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections prior to installation or alteration of a sprinkler system.
Approved plans must be on site during the inspection.
No inspection of a sprinkler system will occur unless all piping is exposed. Using ladders to look over ceiling tiles is not acceptable unless the Fire Marshal approves in advance.
Listed gauges must be used for the hydrostatic test.
Piping shall not be painted until the Fire Marshal inspects and approves the system.
Contractors Material and Test Certificate is required for above-ground piping.
A hydrostatic test is required for more than 20 sprinklers installed.
Visual inspection is required for any number of sprinklers installed.
The system must be installed in accordance with applicable standards and approved plans.
The installation must match approved plans to include manufacturer, model and temperature of sprinkler, piping size, type and plan layout. If not, plans must be revised. Deviations from approved plans require revised plans to be submitted to the Department of Permits, Approvals and Inspections. Deviations without approved plans require approval of the Fire Marshal.
If an Instant Sprinkler Permit is used, a final inspection certification form must be prepared and be available to the Fire Marshal at the time of inspection.
All piping must be marked along its length as to manufacturer or type.
All control valves must have signs identifying their function.
Painted sprinklers must be replaced.
Doors to rooms containing sprinkler equipment and control valves must be marked.
Hydraulic data plate must be displayed in the riser room.
A stock of spare sprinklers must be kept the riser room, in a box with wrench.
Any loss of pressure or visible leaks is cause for failure.
Regarding fire pump installation, a hydrostatic test of pump piping must be witnessed by the Fire Marshal prior to the pump test. An inspection and pump test must be witnessed by the Fire Marshal in accordance with NFPA 20—Standard for the Installation of Centrifugal Fire Pumps.
For standpipes, a hydrostatic test and flush must be witnessed by the Fire Marshal.
Sprinkler systems must adhere to Fire Sprinkler Contractor License regulations.
Hood and duct work must be inspected on the ground before it is hung. Inspectors will check welds, dimensions, model number and wall construction type. An inspection is required after installation is complete.
Hoods or duct work installed before the fire inspection may need to be taken down for inspection.
Approved plans must be available at the time of any hood inspection.
Approved plans must be kept on site.
Installation must follow NFPA 96—Standard for Ventilation, Control and Fire Protection of Commercial Cooking Operations and any other referenced standards.
Electrical inspection by a County electrical inspector is required.
A drop light must be available for placement inside of duct or hood so the inspector can verify welds and seams.
An audible or visual indicator must accompany suppression system activation.
Where a fire alarm system is provided, activation of the suppression system must activate the fire alarm signaling system.
Approved plans and comment letters must be available on site for the inspection.
All comments must be addressed.
The inspector will check means of egress: exit access, exits, exit discharge and lighting.
The inspector will check door operation and width (at least 32 inches clearance).
The inspector will check door hardware and locking devices; key locks are not allowed on the egress side.
The inspector will check that exit signs are illuminated in normal and emergency modes.
Emergency lighting must be wired to the area lighting circuit. When the lighting for any area is turned off at the breaker, the emergency lighting in that area must activate.
The inspector will check stair riser and tread dimensions.
The inspector will check handrail and guardrail dimensions.
Ceiling tiles must be in place where a sprinkler system, or smoke and heat detection, is present.
Sprinklers that have been painted must be replaced.
Fire doors, frames and hardware must bear required labels. All labels must be visible. Fire doors must be self-closing and self-latching. Glass in fire doors, side lights or fire partitions must bear a label of fire resistance by an approved testing agency.
The inspector will require copies of information about finishes on walls, ceilings and floors:
Wall and ceiling flame spread specifications per NFPA 255 test or American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E84 test. For suspended ceilings, a copy of the ceiling tile box label is acceptable if it has this information. Specifications on wall finish must be provided.
Floor finish requirements, if required by the Life Safety Code. Carpet specification sheets must indicate the “critical radiant flux” per NFPA 253.
Specification sheets for curtains and other hanging materials per NFPA 701, if required by the Life Safety Code.
If fire lanes are not paved, the inspector will require an engineering report stating that the fire lane will support a minimum of 35 tons. Fire lanes must be designated and marked in accordance with Fire Marshal specifications. Contact the Fire Marshal prior to the inspection to obtain marking specifications.
Fire hydrants, and building sprinkler or standpipe connections, must be properly located, operational and accessible (18 to 42 inches above grade).
Fire extinguishers must be installed in accordance with NFPA 10—Standard For Portable Fire Extinguishers. For business and mercantile occupancies, extinguishers must be located so the distance to reach one is not greater than 75 feet. Extinguishers must be mounted on a wall with the top of the extinguisher no more than five feet off of the floor. Extinguishers must be accessible and visible.
The building address must be displayed permanently on or near the property in numbers or letters at least six inches high on a contrasting background and posted so as to be visible from the street. For multifamily structures, the designation of each dwelling unit must be affixed to the exterior door of each unit in plain block numbers or letters at least six inches high.
The inspector will address other items specific to your project.