FAQ’s

Fire Alarm (14)

What codes and standards are currently adopted?

2012 International Fire Code with Houston Amendments – The Houston Fire Code
2012 International Building Code with Houston Amendments – The Houston Building Code
2010 Edition of NFPA 72
Houston Fire Department Life Safety Bureau – LSB Standard 2 – “Inspection and Testing of Fire Protection and Life Safety Equipment”

What are the fees for fire alarm plan review?

Fees for fire alarm plan review are based on the number of initiating and/or signaling devices. Click here to be taken to the Houston Permitting Center’s publications page. Scroll down to Fire Protection Review forms and download form 1047.

For the City of Houston permit fee schedule click here

What is required for fire alarm plan submittal?

The Fire Alarm Permit and Plan Review Procedures must be followed. A minimum of 2 sets of design drawings, drawn to a recognized architects scale must be submitted, stamped, signed and dated with either a Texas Fire Alarm Planning Superintendent (APS) registered with the submitting company, or a Professional Engineer registered in Texas whose major discipline is Fire Protection Engineering (FPE).

Is there a Grandfather clause for existing construction?

There is no Grandfather Clause for existing construction. Please refer to 2012 International Fire Code chapter 11 – Construction Requirements For Existing Buildings.

How do I schedule an inspection of my fire alarm system?

You may schedule an inspection of your fire alarm system by dialing our main number 832-394-8853. Our professional fire inspectors are waiting to handle your call. Please continue to call us if you get our voice mail.Before you call please look at our Field Inspections page for more information on what is needed when you call to set up an inspection and when the inspector arrives at your location.

Is our fire alarm system required to be monitored?

Yes. Fire alarm systems required by 2012 IFC or by the 2012 IBC shall be monitored by an approved supervising station in accordance with NFPA 72

What are the fire alarm requirements for a nightclub?

For occupancy classifications please refer to chapter 2 of the 2012 IFC, then to chapter 9 of 2012 IFC & 2012 IBC with Houston amendments for fire alarm requirements for that occupancy class.

When should we bring a fire alarm system up to the current Houston fire and building codes?

When there is a change in occupancy type or building size/elevation, the building should be brought up to the current Houston codes.

Is it necessary for us to bring the fire alarm system up to current code if we are just replacing the fire alarm control panel?

It depends on the situation. If you are replacing the fire alarm control panel with the exact same system, then it is considered repair/maintenance work and current code compliance is not required.

However, if you are installing a new fire alarm control panel different from the old system in place, then the new installation must meet current code as well as all the associated equipment. If you are replacing the existing FACP with a newer model of the same panel it must meet current code as well.

Rule of thumb: If you have to add new wiring and new devices to a system then you should bring the occupancy up to code.

How do we check the status of submitted fire alarm plans?

You can check the status of plans by going to the City of Houston’s website online permits section. Scroll down to check permit status and click on the link “Plan Review Status (Real Time Pages)

You must have the project number to check the status of plans.

We didn’t have any fire alarm work performed but we have a fire alarm hold on our project. How do we get the fire alarm hold removed?

If you have a project hold for fire alarm and you did not have any fire alarm work performed, then you will need to have a fire alarm company fax  or  email us a letter on their letterhead to remove the hold.

The letter from the fire alarm company must have the project number, their license number and signature. It must also state “no fire alarm work was performed”. If there is an existing alarm it must state “no fire alarm work was performed and the current fire alarm system was found to be in working order per the City of Houston codes as adopted and amended.

Once we receive the letter we will remove the project hold.

Fax: (832)395-9617

Email: hpcfmo@houstontx.gov

Who do we contact with fire code questions that do not pertain to fire alarms or standpipe systems?

If you have questions that do not pertain to fire alarm plans, standpipe system plans or field inspection of those plans please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office main number at 832-394-6900.

When you call make sure you have the following information.

  • Nature of your call. (Fire department access, hydrants locations etc…)
  • Type of Occupancy
  • Zip code

The Houston Fire Marshal’s Office has several teams. Ask to speak  with the supervisor over the occupancy type related to your fire code issue. The teams are listed below.

  • General Occupancy (All occupancies that are not covered below)
  • High-rise team
  • School team
  • Apartment team
  • Institutions team (Hospitals, adult care facilities etc…)
  • Special Operations (festivals, circus, concerts etc…)
  • Haz-Mat and High-Piled storage
  • Public Education

Can we use magnets to test smoke detectors?

Using magnets is fine while you are pretesting a fire alarm system because it lets you know the smoke detector is functioning properly. However it does not test a real fire and smoke situation. It only mimics the signal that tells the fire alarm panel the smoke chamber detects smoke.

We require the use of smoke to test smoke detectors. Using smoke to fill the smoke chamber of a smoke detector is the only way to determine if the smoke detector detects smoke.

Please read the smoke detector failure story in the post “Artificial Smoke vs. Magnets when testing smoke detectors”.

Is there a place online where we can see our plans rejection notes or our field inspections history?

To view plan rejection notes or to view field inspection history click here. You will be taken to the City of Houston’s online permits website. Use the following instructions:

  1. After clicking on the link above scroll down to “Schedule Inspections”
  2. Click on “Schedule Inspections and Inspections History” or “For questions about SCHEDULING INSPECTIONS please Click Here”
  3. Enter your 8 digit project number and press the submit button.
  4. Select permit type: FP – Sprinklers plan review, UF – Dedicated Underground fireline, OL – fire alarm etc… press the submit button.
  5. Look in the upper right corner of the table and click on “Display Project / Inspection Comments”
  6. There you will find the comments.

 

 

 

 

Fire Sprinklers (8)

Which codes or currently being enforced for fire sprinkler systems?

2012 International Fire Code and 2012 International Building Code with Houston Amendments, NFPA 13, NFPA 13R, NFPA 13D

What buildings have to sprinklered and when?

A building is required to have sprinklers dependent upon several factors such as occupancy classification, size and construction. Also, minimum fire department access requirements must be satisfied if sprinklers are not required.

Refer to 2012 International Building Code as adopted and amended by City of Houston Chapter 9 – Section 903

How do I schedule/request a sprinkler inspection?

You may schedule an inspection of your sprinkler system by dialing our main number 832-394-8853. Our professional fire inspectors are waiting to handle your call. Please continue to call us if you get our voice mail. We do not get a chance to check voice mails due to the high number of calls we receive.

Before you call please look at our Field Inspections page for more information on what is needed when you call to set up an inspection and when the inspector arrives at your location.

Who reviews fire sprinkler plans?

The City of Houston’s fire protection engineer reviews fire sprinkler systems. Refer to 2012 IBC as amended and adopted by the City of Houston Chapter 9 – Section 903 for sprinkler requirements.

How do we check the status of our sprinkler plans?

You can check the status of plans by going to the City of Houston’s website online permits section. Scroll down to check permit status and click on the link “Plan Review Status (Real Time Pages).

You must have the project number to check the status of plans.

We didn’t have any fire sprinkler work performed but we have a fire sprinkler hold on our project. How do we get the fire sprinkler hold removed?

If you have a project hold for fire sprinkler and you did not have any fire sprinkler work performed, then you will need to have a fire sprinkler company fax  or email us a letter on their letterhead to remove the hold.

The letter from the fire sprinkler company must have the project number, their license number and signature. It must also state “no fire sprinkler work was performed”. If there is an existing sprinkler system it must state “no fire sprinkler work was performed and the current fire sprinkler system was found to be in working order per the City of Houston codes as adopted and amended.

Once we receive the letter we will remove the project hold.

Fax: (832)395-9617

Email: hpcfmo@houstontx.gov

Who do we contact with fire code questions that do not pertain to fire alarms or standpipe systems?

If you have questions that do not pertain to fire alarm plans, standpipe system plans or field inspection of those plans please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office main number at 832-394-6900.

When you call make sure you have the following information.

  • Nature of your call. (Fire department access, hydrants locations etc…)
  • Type of Occupancy
  • Zip code

The Houston Fire Marshal’s Office has several teams. Ask to speak  with the supervisor over the occupancy type related to your fire code issue. The teams are listed below.

  • General Occupancy (All occupancies that are not covered below)
  • High-rise team
  • School team
  • Apartment team
  • Institutions team (Hospitals, adult care facilities etc…)
  • Special Operations (festivals, circus, concerts etc…)
  • Haz-Mat and High-Piled storage
  • Public Education

Is there a place online where we can see our plans rejection notes or our field inspections history?

To view plan rejection notes or to view field inspection history click here. You will be taken to the City of Houston’s online permits website. Use the following instructions:

  1. After clicking on the link above scroll down to “Schedule Inspections”
  2. Click on “Schedule Inspections and Inspections History” or “For questions about SCHEDULING INSPECTIONS please Click Here”
  3. Enter your 8 digit project number and press the submit button.
  4. Select permit type: FP – Sprinklers plan review, UF – Dedicated Underground fireline, OL – fire alarm etc… press the submit button.
  5. Look in the upper right corner of the table and click on “Display Project / Inspection Comments”
  6. There you will find the comments.

 

 

 

 

Standpipe System (6)

When are standpipe systems required to be installed?

Standpipe systems shall be installed throughout buildings where the floor level of the highest story is located more than 30 feet above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access, or where the floor level of the lowest story is located more than 30 feet below the highest level of fire department vehicle access.

Why do our standpipe plans keep getting rejected?

There are several reasons your standpipe plans may be rejected. The most common rejections are due to incorrect fire pump room details, riser diagram missing, standpipe system on top level of garage has improper coverage and more.

The inspector who reviews your plans will note which pages are incorrect and actions that should be taken to correct them.

To aid you in getting your plans approved the first time please use our Standpipe System Submittal Guidelines located on our plan submittal guidelines page.

How do we check the status of submitted standpipe plans?

You can check the status of plans by going to the City of Houston’s website online permits section. Scroll down to check permit status and click on the link “Plan Review Status (Real Time Pages)

You must have the project number to check the status of plans.

Who do we contact with fire code questions that do not pertain to fire alarms or standpipe systems?

If you have questions that do not pertain to fire alarm plans, standpipe system plans or field inspection of those plans please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office main number at 832-394-6900.

When you call make sure you have the following information.

  • Nature of your call. (Fire department access, hydrants locations etc…)
  • Type of Occupancy
  • Zip code

The Houston Fire Marshal’s Office has several teams. Ask to speak  with the supervisor over the occupancy type related to your fire code issue. The teams are listed below.

  • General Occupancy (All occupancies that are not covered below)
  • High-rise team
  • School team
  • Apartment team
  • Institutions team (Hospitals, adult care facilities etc…)
  • Special Operations (festivals, circus, concerts etc…)
  • Haz-Mat and High-Piled storage
  • Public Education

Is there a place online where we can see our plans rejection notes or our field inspections history?

To view plan rejection notes or to view field inspection history click here. You will be taken to the City of Houston’s online permits website. Use the following instructions:

  1. After clicking on the link above scroll down to “Schedule Inspections”
  2. Click on “Schedule Inspections and Inspections History” or “For questions about SCHEDULING INSPECTIONS please Click Here”
  3. Enter your 8 digit project number and press the submit button.
  4. Select permit type: FP – Sprinklers plan review, UF – Dedicated Underground fireline, OL – fire alarm etc… press the submit button.
  5. Look in the upper right corner of the table and click on “Display Project / Inspection Comments”
  6. There you will find the comments.

 

 

 

 

When are temporary standpipes required to be installed?

Temporary standpipes are required for safeguard during construction. Where required. Buildings four stories or more in height shall be provided with not less than one standpipe for use during construction. Such standpipes shall be installed where the progress of construction is not more than 40 feet in height above the lowest level of fire department access. Such standpipes shall be provided with fire department hose connections at accessible locations adjacent to usable stairs. Such standpipes shall be extended as construction progresses to within one floor of the highest point of construction having secured decking or flooring.

Fire Department Connection (3)

Can we locate our fire department connection in the rear of our building?

Fire department connections shall be located on the street front side of buildings, fully visible and recognizable from the street or nearest point of fire department vehicle access or as otherwise approved by the fire code official.

It is our policy not to allow FDC’s to be located out of sight from responding fire crews. We do not want fire crews to have to look for your FDC’s by following arrows posted on signage.

Wouldn’t you want fire crews to have immediate access to a buildings fire protection systems if the building was on fire?

We will allow a FDC to be located in the rear or side of a building if it is a second FDC. The first FDC must be located on the property address side of the building.

How many FDC’s is a building required to have?

The number of standpipe risers determine the number of fire department connections needed. If a building has more than three (3) risers it will need two (2) FDC’s.

At least one of the FDC’s must be located on the street front side fully visible to responding fire crews. The other FDC may be located in an approved location.

Who do we contact with fire code questions that do not pertain to fire alarms or standpipe systems?

If you have questions that do not pertain to fire alarm plans, standpipe system plans or field inspection of those plans please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office main number at 832-394-6900.

When you call make sure you have the following information.

  • Nature of your call. (Fire department access, hydrants locations etc…)
  • Type of Occupancy
  • Zip code

The Houston Fire Marshal’s Office has several teams. Ask to speak  with the supervisor over the occupancy type related to your fire code issue. The teams are listed below.

  • General Occupancy (All occupancies that are not covered below)
  • High-rise team
  • School team
  • Apartment team
  • Institutions team (Hospitals, adult care facilities etc…)
  • Special Operations (festivals, circus, concerts etc…)
  • Haz-Mat and High-Piled storage
  • Public Education

Underground Fire Line (4)

What if our subcontractor covers up the underground fire line prior to field inspection approval?

Prior to covering the underground fire line a visual inspection shall be performed by one of our field inspector’s. If the piping , piping joints and thrust blocks are covered prior to installation you will be required to uncover the piping for inspection regardless of cover. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Is a licensed plumber allowed to install a dedicated underground fire line?

According to the State Fire Marshals Office – In order to install (not design) an underground main for a fire sprinkler system the firm (1) must obtain a “registration” (SCR) from the State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) and (2) must employ at least one full-time employee who holds an “RME-Underground License” (RME-U). The RME is the person designated by the firm to be responsible to assure the underground main is planned by a sprinkler firm holding an SCR-General, or a Texas registered professional engineer and installed according to all adopted codes and standards. Other employees of the firm holding an SCR are not required to hold individual licenses.

Click here to view fire sprinkler licensing information located on the State Fire Marshals website.

Who do we contact with fire code questions that do not pertain to fire alarms or standpipe systems?

If you have questions that do not pertain to fire alarm plans, standpipe system plans or field inspection of those plans please contact the Fire Marshal’s Office main number at 832-394-6900.

When you call make sure you have the following information.

  • Nature of your call. (Fire department access, hydrants locations etc…)
  • Type of Occupancy
  • Zip code

The Houston Fire Marshal’s Office has several teams. Ask to speak  with the supervisor over the occupancy type related to your fire code issue. The teams are listed below.

  • General Occupancy (All occupancies that are not covered below)
  • High-rise team
  • School team
  • Apartment team
  • Institutions team (Hospitals, adult care facilities etc…)
  • Special Operations (festivals, circus, concerts etc…)
  • Haz-Mat and High-Piled storage
  • Public Education

Is there a place online where we can see our plans rejection notes or our field inspections history?

To view plan rejection notes or to view field inspection history click here. You will be taken to the City of Houston’s online permits website. Use the following instructions:

  1. After clicking on the link above scroll down to “Schedule Inspections”
  2. Click on “Schedule Inspections and Inspections History” or “For questions about SCHEDULING INSPECTIONS please Click Here”
  3. Enter your 8 digit project number and press the submit button.
  4. Select permit type: FP – Sprinklers plan review, UF – Dedicated Underground fireline, OL – fire alarm etc… press the submit button.
  5. Look in the upper right corner of the table and click on “Display Project / Inspection Comments”
  6. There you will find the comments.

 

 

 

 

Fire Department Access (1)

Does your team review plans for fire department access?

At the present time our team only review fire alarm and standpipe system plans. If you need assistance with fire department access please dial the Houston Fire Marshal’s Office main number at 832-394-6900.

When you call make sure you have the following information.

  • Nature of your call. (Fire department access, hydrants locations etc…)
  • Type of Occupancy
  • Zip code

The Houston Fire Marshal’s Office has several teams. Ask to speak  with the supervisor over the occupancy type related to your fire department access question. The teams are listed below.

  • General Occupancy (All occupancies that are not covered below)
  • High-rise team
  • School team
  • Apartment team
  • Institutions team (Hospitals, adult care facilities etc…)
  • Special Operations (festivals, circus, concerts etc…)
  • Haz-Mat and High-Piled storage
  • Public Education