Determining Frequency of Inspections

Fire codes and standard do not directly address the frequency of existing building inspections. How often should existing buildings be inspected?  Should all buildings be inspected with the same frequency? What structure should be inspected more frequently or less frequently? What determines inspection frequency?

As a definitive guide for the establishment of fire prevention and inspection programs, NFPA 1730 answers these questions and provides guidance on how to determine the inspection frequency of existing buildings. The minimum frequency of inspections should be established based on occupancy risk, as follows:

High Risk Inspected Annually
Moderate Risk Inspected Biennially
Low Risk Inspected Triennially
Critical Infrastructure Inspected per AHJ

NFPA 1730 defines these risk categories.
  • High Risk.  Buildings having a history of frequent fires and a high potential for life or economic loss; or a building in which occupants must rely heavily on the building's fire protection features, or rely on staff assistance for evacuation.
  • Moderate Risk. Buildings having a moderate fire history and present only moderate potential for life or economic loss.
  • Low Risk. Buildings having little to no history of fire with minimal potential for life or economic loss.
  • Critical Infrastructure. Vital assets, systems, networks, or structures whose damage or destruction would have a debilitating effect on the community.
High risk occupancies may be buildings such as apartments, health care, detention, assembly, and educational facilities.  Moderate risk occupancies can be ambulatory health care, walk-in clinics, and industrial buildings.  Storage, mercantile, business, and office buildings could be considered low risk occupancies. Critical infrastructure facilities are buildings such as power plants, water treatment facilities, public safety buildings, and special structures unique to the community.

All the structures in the community will fall into one of these risk categories.  The occupancy risk classification of each structure will be determined based on the Community Risk Assessment (CRA). Ample time should be spent on ensuring that the CRA is conducted properly.  The community risk assessment sets the standard and drives the direction of the entire fire prevention organization.

Determining the amount of occupancies in each category, will reveal the amount of inspections that are required to be conducted annually.  From this the fire prevention organization can determine adequate staffing levels.

The simplified process for determining inspection frequency for existing occupancies should look like this:

Step 1. Conduct a CRA.
Step 2. Classify the occupancy risk of each structure.
Step 3. Determine the amount of inspections to be conducted annually.
Step 4. Determine the necessary staffing level needed to complete the inspections.

Expressing Professional Gratitude

Gratitude is defined as “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful”. We all have much to be grateful for. We understand gratitude in our personal lives when we look at our families, enjoy our homes, and play with our “toys”. However, many of us have equally as much to be grateful for in our profession and work.  

We can be grateful for the people that we encounter in this career. Think of the individuals that inspired us to pursue a fire service career. Think of the officers and fellow firefighters, that have taken the time to teach, instruct, and pour into our professional development. Consider the people that we have the privilege of working side-by-side with each day. Have we expressed your gratitude toward these individuals? We can express this by writing a note of thanks, by passing on the lessons learned from the influencers in our careers, and by treating one another with respect.
We can be grateful for the work place that provides us with gainful employment. It is through the opportunity to work at this place, for this company, which provides us the tools to care for our families and pursue our interests, and create incredible experiences. We express our gratitude for our work place by always acting in the best interests of the customer, and by putting the needs of all over the needs of ourselves.
We can be grateful that we have the power to perform the work. Many are physically unable to work. There are still others who may not have the opportunity to engage in work or careers that they are passionate about. We have the power to do both. We are physically capable, of pursuing a career that we can be passionate about. We can express our gratitude for the power to perform by fully applying our knowledge, skills, and energy to our field each and every workday.
Being grateful and expressing that gratitude will bring out the very best in those we work with each day. As we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday, take some time to reflect and express you gratitude where it may most be needed.

Reader Survey and Free Stuff

I could really use your help, right now. In an effort to make this blog more relevant to your needs and interests I have created the 2016 Reader Survey

Would you please take a couple minutes and fill out the brief survey?  By doing so you will be helping yourself, by helping me create more interesting and relevant content.

Your input is important to me.  The survey is less than 10 questions, and should take less than 5 minutes. Also, there are no 'required' responses to hang you up.

For those of you who take the time to fill out the survey, you will be entered into a drawing to receive a package of fire prevention tools and resources. You must enter you e-mail at the end of the survey to be eligible for this.

Thanks in advance for your assistance in this!

Building a Hangar Home

For the pilot, there must be nothing like walking out of your back door, into your hangar, and taking flight from your “garage”.  The popularity of this lifestyle is evidenced by the more than 600 fly-in, residential airparks located throughout the country (see,  

These hangar homes are unique structures with specific fire protection and life safety requirements.  The International Building Code (IBC) defines a residential aircraft hangar as, “an accessory building less than 2,000 square feet and 20 feet in building height constructed on a one- or two-family property where aircraft are stored.”*

Section 412.5 of the IBC outlines the requirements for residential aircraft hangars:

  • The living space and hangar space are required to be separated by a minimum of 1-hour fire-resistance rated assembly.
  • (2) Means of egress are required from the hangar area.
  • Hangar building systems (electricity, plumbing, HVAC, etc.) are to be independent from the living space/dwelling building systems.
  • Smoke alarms are required to be installed throughout the structure.  The hangar area is required to have a minimum of (1) smoke alarm.  The hangar and dwelling smoke alarms are to be interconnected.

*This definition is not intended to limit the size of a residential hangar. Hangars that exceed these height and area requirements can no longer be classified as a “residential aircraft hangar”, and must be protected and built in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 409.

Additional resources:
Hangar Home Design -
Article - Specifying Hangar Doors
Book - NFPA 409 - Resource Guide