Fire Prevention and Inspection

Fire Department

Contact the Fire Marshal at (513) 985-1632

Fire InspectorThe primary objective of the fire service is the control and elimination of unfriendly fires. Fire prevention, however, is increasingly becoming a major objective of fire personnel. In a modern fire service, preventing the outbreak and serious spread of fire is considered as essential to public safety as proficiency in fighting fires. It is recognized that a jurisdiction has a continuing responsibility for periodic inspection of certain uses of buildings to be sure that the safeguards against fire and the protection of life are properly maintained. This responsibility is generally assigned to the fire department or the fire prevention division of the municipality being served.

Any good inspection program must consider the benefits of educating the public about hazards which may affect them and how that might endanger their lives and property. Realizing this and the importance of such a program, the Montgomery Fire Department established an active Division of Fire Prevention. Through this Division, fire inspections within the jurisdiction are carried out on a regular, systematic basis by three certified fire safety inspectors. The program requires all occupancies except residential properties to be inspected at least once per year.

In addition, the Fire Marshal is responsible to inform and educate the public in areas of fire prevention and to consult with individuals and property owners to secure cooperation on matters affecting their safety to others. The Fire Marshal also works closely with the City in the development and enactment of codes for the abatement and prevention of fires.

Fire Prevention Checklist

Prevention is an important area of the fire department’s responsibility.  In addition to the many programs we offer to assist in preventing fires and accidents, the Fire Department conducts annual fire safety inspections of all businesses operating within the City of Montgomery. These include the many medical offices, clinics, surgery centers, schools, day cares, and churches operating within the City.

The City of Montgomery’s fire inspection program operates under the authority of the State of Ohio Fire Code 2011 edition. Additional information can be found on the State of Ohio Fire Marshall website.

Below is a quick checklist of the items we will be looking for when we come out to tour your facility on our annual fire safety inspection.  Below the quick checklist is a more detailed description of each item with pictures, illustrations and the reasoning behind why this is an issue that needs to be maintained.

Safety Checklist

  1. All exit ways maintained clear and free of obstructions, all exit and fire doors in working condition. Exit doors shall open from the inside without locks or devices which would slow or stop those exiting.  All Fire Doors shall be kept closed unless equipped with an automatic release.
  2. All emergency lighting and exit lights shall be in operational condition. Backup generators used for emergency lighting need to be serviced quarterly by a qualified contractor.
  3. Provide at least one type 2A10BC portable  fire extinguisher that is serviced  annually by a State of Ohio  licensed  contractor. An additional extinguisher is also required for each level of occupancy,  travel distances in excess of 75 feet  and any special hazard areas.
  4. Electrical panels and equipment shall have a minimum of thirty (30) inches clearance.  Service plates shall cover any openings in electrical panel boxes for missing circuit breakers.
  5. Replace all damaged/spliced electrical cords.  Extension cords shall not be used as permanent wiring.
  6. Post a street address visible from the street with letters and numbers that are four (4) inches minimum size & contrast with background of building.
  7. Fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems must be serviced on an annual basis by a State of  Ohio  licensed contractor.
  8. Kitchen Hood & Duct fire suppression systems shall be operable and serviced annually by  a State of  Ohio  licensed contractor. Kitchen hoods should be inspected and cleaned every 6 months.
  9. Arrange storage in an orderly manner. Reduce storage to eighteen (18) inches below level of sprinklers or twenty-four (24) inches below ceilings in non-sprinkler rooms.  All storage areas need to be accessible with a walking path around rack storage and storage piles.
  10. There should be no flammable storage in any electrical rooms or any rooms where electrical or gas fed appliances are in operation.
  11. There should be no combustible storage within 18 inches of any gas fed appliance such as a furnace or water heater.
  12. All appliances should be maintained in good working order free of dust buildup especially around electric motors. This includes but is not limited to exhaust fans, refrigeration equipment, furnaces.
  13. There is no storage permitted of gasoline powered equipment within a commercial building unless designed specifically for this use and approved by the building department.
  14. If your business carries flammable liquids, a 704M “Hazardous Material Placard” may be required.

Note:  Flammables are materials (such as gasoline and other fuels) that emit vapors that will ignite at or below normal room temperatures. Combustibles require a temperature above normal room temperatures to emit ignitable vapors.   (A flashpoint above or below 100 degrees Fahrenheit)

Service Garages

  1. Oily rags must be temporarily discarded in an approved metal container, used rags with oil grease or other substances shall not be left laying on tables, work benches, or in piles on the floor. Any used rag not currently in use needs to be discarded in an approved container.
  2. Any drums of flammable liquids that are used for dispensing shall be electrically bonded to eliminate the potential hazard of the flammable liquid vapors igniting via static electricity.
  3. An approved eye wash station has to be in an area that is visible and accessible to all employees working in this area.
  4. Any spray painting has to be in an area that has been specifically designed for this operation and approved by the building department.

The above listed items are the most commonly found violations in most businesses.  There are many codes that are specific for the various use groups which are far too numerous to mention here.  If you have any questions please call at (513) 985-1633 or refer to the link above to the state fire code for reference.

Exit passageway, Means of Egress

All exit ways need to be maintained free of obstructions. Exit doors shall open from the inside without locks or devices which would slow or stop those exiting.

Clear exits

All Fire Doors shall be kept closed unless equipped with an automatic release

Open fire doorIn the event of a fire, fire rated doors provide a barrier to keep fire from spreading from one section of a building to another. These doors are common in most stairwells and where building separation is required by the building code. These doors will not function as intended when they are left blocked open with a door stop as shown in this picture. Where the normal operation within a building requires these doors to remain open then they need to be equipped with an automatic releasing device that will allow the door to close on its own in the event of a fire. This device can be a single smoke detector or can be activated by the buildings fire alarm system.

All emergency lighting and exit lights shall be in operational condition

emergency lightingEmergency light fixtures are equipped with a test button.  Pressing the test button simulates a power failure enabling the battery to power the white flood lights as shown in this picture. If they do not come on, come on dimly, or hum then the fixture probably needs a new battery.


Portable Fire Extinguishers

portable fire extinguisherPortable fire extinguishers are required to be serviced annually by a licensed State of Ohio contractor.

The fact that the gauge shows in the green indicating that the extinguisher is fully charged is no guarantee that the unit will function when you need it. The dry chemical in the cylinder needs to be reactivated periodically to insure it will discharge properly when you squeeze the handle.

The integrity of the cylinder also needs to be tested once every 6 years to insure it will hold up under pressure.

An annual service of all portable extinguishers used in businesses is required by the State Fire Code.

Provide at least one type 2A 10BC fire extinguisher that is serviced annually by a State of Ohio licensed extinguisher company.

All appliances and vents should be free of lint and dust buildup

lint free ventThe buildup of lint and dust in an exhaust vent might be thought of just being a minor house cleaning issue, but this can actually be a serious fire safety concern.   These materials can get inside the exhaust fan motor and actually cause the motor to lock up and or overheat.  This hazard can be easily eliminated with a scheduled routine of vacuuming these vent covers.

Replace all damaged/spliced electrical cords

damaged electrical cordElectrical extension cords should never be used as permanent wiring. Appliances should be plugged in directly to an electrical outlet. Any extension of the appliance power cord should be accomplished with a surge protector strip. Electrical cords should never run under a rug or on a floor where they might get walked on. Badly worn insulation on an electrical cord can lead to a short and cause a fire. Light duty extension cords should not be used to supply a larger diameter power cord on an appliance.

Storage should be maintained at least 18″ below sprinkler heads

Obstructed Sprinkler heads will not function properly when needed.  Storage needs to be maintained at least 18” below the level of the sprinklers. The storage in these illustrations would cause these sprinklers to be blocked and would be ineffective in the event of a fire.  Storage in buildings without sprinklers should be maintained 24 inches below ceiling level!

boxes too close to ceiling


Properly service fire sprinkler systems

Fire sprinkler systems need to be serviced annually by a State of Oho licensed contractor.  Sprinkler controls should remain completely accessible and free from obstructions.  No storage is permitted within the vicinity of these controls.

Always maintain a clear means of Egress!

The passageway to an exit should not be used as a storage area.  A straight unobstructed path to a marked exit is critical in the event of a fire or other an emergencies.

clear hallways

Maintain a clearance around water heaters and furnaces

Cardboard dtorage boxes and other combustible materials should always be stored at least  18” away from water heaters and furnaces.  A path to all appliances should be maintained so in the event of a malfunction you can have access to the appliance to check for a potential fire or overheating.

proper water heater clearance

Compressed air cylinders should be properly secured

Compressed air cylinders should be properly secured. These cylinders are an extreme hazard if they were to get knocked over.  Under the right conditions these can actually become missiles traveling through walls and injuring anyone in its path. Compressed air cylinders should be stored with the screw on cap in place and secured to the wall with a chain or bungee strap. This will prevent the cylinder from  falling on its side.

properly secure air cylinder

Address visible from street

An address for every building should be posted either on the street side of the building or on a separate sign that is visible from the street.  Easy to see and read address numbers can make a substantial difference in response times in a call for a police officer, fire or EMS ambulance.  You can get a reflective address sign from the fire department.  Details here.

Kitchen Hood & Duct fire suppression systems shall be serviced and maintained

kitchen hood supression systemThe rubber caps on the end of these hood suppression nozzles perform an important function and need to be kept in place. These caps prevent the buildup of grease from obstructing the flow of an extinguishing agent. In the event of a fire the caps will pop off easily by the force of the extinguisher discharge if the nozzle is otherwise unobstructed.

Kitchen hood suppression systems need to be serviced every 6 months by a State licensed fire suppression technician.  The hood needs to be kept clean from the buildup of grease and  the vent should also be on a regular cleaning cycle to insure air flow without any blockage. Although the system is designed  with fusible  links to activate automatically in the event of a fire , all employees should also know where the manual pull station is located if needed.

properly maintained kitchen hood