Fire Department

Inspection Checklist & FAQ

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​The City of Ann Arbor has adopted the International Fire Code, 2015 edition (2015 IFC) as published by the International Code Council. Together with the provisions of Chapter 111 of the City Ordinance, shall be known as the Ann Arbor Fire Prevention Code. A complete copy of the 2015 IFC is available to the public for inspection in the Ann Arbor City Clerk's Office and in the City of Ann Arbor Fire Prevention Bureau.

  • ​​Annual inspection records shall be made available for the following systems at time of inspection.
    • Portable fire extinguishers
    • Fire alarm systems
    • Fire suppression sprinkler systems
    • Commercial cooking suppression systems and exhaust hood system cleaning
  • All exit signs must be in working order.​
  • All emergency lighting must be in working order.​
  • Storage heights in stock and store rooms including basements.
    • that are protected by fire sprinklers is 18 inches from the ceiling.
    • that are not protected by fire sprinklers is 24 inches from the ceiling.
  • Proper usage of extension cords and multi-plug adaptors as according to the diagram.​
  • Outlets and light switches must be covered with a wall plate.​
  • Holes/breaches in the drywall must be fixed.
  • Ceiling tiles in drop ceilings must be in place.
  • Exits and aisle ways must be kept clear.
    • 36-inch clearance must be maintained around all sprinkler heads, electrical panels, furnaces, boilers, and water heaters.
    • 28-inch clearance must be maintained for all non-public aisle ways.
  • Fire Department Connections (FDC) must be kept clear of vegetation or other obstructions. Inlets must be sealed with manufacturers' caps.
    • Locking FDC caps may be the best choice for your business.  Contact Fire Prevention for more information.

Inspection Frequently Asked Questions

1. Under what authority are fire inspections conducted?

Under Public Act 207 of 1941 – Fire Prevention Code, Section 29.8, authorizes inspections and examinations of buildings and premises for the purpose of findings, reports, and recommendations related to fire hazards.

2. How is the inspection fee structure determined?
The current fee schedule was based on recovering the costs of the time it takes for one inspector to manage the entire inspection process for one building. Two inspectors contribute to enhanced efficiency in the overall inspection process, and reduce the liability in overlooking an existing hazard(s). The building owner will be invoiced a square footage fee which covers the inspection of the building.  Buildings containing more than one tenant will be assessed an additional processing fee per tenant which covers the administrative costs related to inspection, follow-up inspection and data entry. Rates are reviewed at least biannually as part of the city’s budget process.

3. How is the square footage or footage of the space determined?
Square footage information is obtained directly from the Online Assessment and Property Tax Data located on the City of Ann Arbor’s assessor website.  

4. Is there an expectation that constant upgrades are necessary in order for property owners to meet new building/fire codes?
No. Inspections will be are centered on fire safety violations such as maintenaning items already in place in buildings.  These items must be in working order so that the level of fire safety is not reduced. Chapter 46 – Construction Requirements for Existing Buildings of the 2015 IFC addresses this concern.  Section 4603.1 states: "The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to allow the elimination of fire protection systems or a reduction in the level of fire safety provided in buildings constructed in accordance with previously adopted codes."

5. Why have fire safety inspections increased recently?
The inspection process has been part of the City Ordinance for more than a decade. Previously, priority for inspections was given to high-risk occupancies such as bars, restaurants, hotels, and businesses that required a fire inspection in order to obtain a specific permit. The expansion to inspect other parcels reflects, in part, a greater emphasis on fire prevention as an effective way to reduce loss of life and property resulting from fires.
6. Should there be an inspection every time there is a change in tenant? Is the change of occupancy a valid reason to re-inspect?
Yes. When a change in tenant/occupancy occurs, a fire inspection as well as inspections by building inspection staff is conducted. This practice was established for safety reasons and is consistent with the building department’s policies and procedures.
7. How do I appeal a violation sited during my inspection that I feel is incorrect?
City Ordinance Title IX – Police Regulations, Chapter 111 – Fire Prevention, Section 9:108 – Appeals states, "Whenever the chief or the fire marshal shall disapprove an application or refuse to grant a permit applied for, or when it is claimed that the provisions of the code do not apply or that the true intent and meaning of the code have been misconstrued or wrongly interpreted, the applicant may appeal from the chief’s or fire marshal’s decision to the building board of appeals within 30 days from the date of the decision appealed."



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