I can’t support enough, the idea of Fire Departments putting themselves in the process of OBC plans review. After having fought for one permit fee funded Fire Plans examiner position over ten years ago and recently putting a second plans examiner in to the role (to be funded shortly), we believe they are worth their weight in gold. They interdict many of the problems FPOs would normally encounter in newly constructed buildings and the problems that are associated with renovation permits.
These two positions work on the premise that a “minimum code compliant building does not equal a safe building”. Our examiners look at the proposals from designers to evaluate what they are proposing to do in the building, not just what they are going to build.
1. Are your fire inspectors certified as building inspectors?
Yes. Fire Protection is the first benchmark for all staff, but we also want plans exam and VO staff to have Large Buildings and the Part 10/11 courses as minimums.
2. Do your fire inspectors conduct plans review?
Yes, for all permits involving Part 3, major renovations, fire alarm, sprinkler or other complex life safety systems. They also review all site plans.
3. Do your fire inspectors conduct inspections on new construction / alterations (building permit issued)?
Plans examiners follow the building construction from permit to occupancy. We used to hand off the occupancy to area inspectors, but found it was more efficient to add a second examiner and follow the process through.
4. Does your building department pay the wages of your fire inspectors that do plans review? (Are they paid an hourly rate by the building department for their services?)
Ten years ago an FTE was funded out of permit fees based on proposed workload. We have exceeded workload forecasts and are seeking funding for a second FTE.
5. Does your building department cover the cost of BCIN courses, building codes, exams and annual certification?
Maintenance items such as these are funded out of our general budget for courses, training and certifications.