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Bexar County Fire Marshal's Office conducts fire/safety inspections based on a Fire Code requirement that all commercial, public accessible, and multi-family residential buildings be maintained in a fire safe condition. The state law that provides authority to the County to conduct inspections is the LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 352. COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION, 352.016(b). INSPECTION OR REVIEW OF PLAN FOR FIRE OR LIFE SAFETY HAZARDS.
Bexar County utilizes the International Fire Code as adopted by the Bexar County Commissioners Court under the authority granted by the LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 233. COUNTY REGULATION OF HOUSING AND OTHER STRUCTURES. In Bexar County the International Fire Code takes precedence over any other codes normally utilized by state agencies because the State Law allows the County to enforce its code in lieu of other minimum codes.
Initially, the Fire Inspector will issue a Notice of Violation. The Notice will indicate a date that the violation must be corrected by. The Fire Marshal's Office will make every effort to work with the building owner/occupant to bring the building into compliance without having to take further legal action. However, if the building owner/occupant continues to resist efforts to correct a fire hazard, the owner/occupant is subject to arrest and prosecution as indicated in the LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE CHAPTER 352. COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION, 352.022. PENALTY FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH ORDER.
This is a misconception or myth. There are no provisions in either the Local Government Code or the International Fire or Building Codes that allows a building to exist in an unsafe condition. The LOCAL GOVERNMENT, CODE CHAPTER 352. COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION, 352.016. INSPECTION OR REVIEW OF PLAN FOR FIRE OR LIFE SAFETY HAZARDS item (6) specifically indicates that our inspections shall look for inappropriate means of egress, fire protection, or other fire-related safeguard. Additionally, the Fire Code indicates the following: 110.1.1 Unsafe conditions. Structures or existing equipment that are or hereafter become unsafe or deficient because of inadequate means of egress or which constitute a fire hazard, or are otherwise dangerous to human life or the public welfare, or which involve illegal or improper occupancy or inadequate maintenance, shall be deemed an unsafe condition. A vacant structure that is not secured against unauthorized entry as required by Section 311 shall be deemed unsafe.
You must obtain a Certificate of Change of Occupancy. In order to get this certificate, you must call the Fire Marshal's Office and schedule a Fire Inspection for Change of Occupancy. An inspection is required because buildings are built based on the contents or operations to be performed inside the building. When the occupancy changes, the Fire Inspector has to check to make sure the fire protection related construction features of the building are consistent with the new occupancy and its contents and operations. You will be advised at the time if additional fire protection systems or fire resistive construction must be added based on your operations. The fee for the inspection is $150.00, and must be paid at the time of the inspection. This fee also covers the cost of one (1) reinspection. The Inspector will collect this fee on-site, and will give you a written receipt for the payment. If the building is found to meet the fire code for your occupancy requirements, the Certificate of Change of Occupancy will be mailed to you. If the building does not meet the specific Fire Code requirements, the Inspector will provide you with information on how to proceed from that point, and who to contact.
The most important thing you can do when you enter a building is to find and know the ways out! During an emergency event, the way that you came in may not be the best way to leave! If you and your loved ones are going to survive an emergency, it is critical that you remain calm and have a "EXIT strategy" in place.
To meet the annual requirements, an Application for Registered Operation must be completely filled out, and submitted to the Bexar County Fire Marshal’s Office along with the fee listed on the application. Once the Fire Inspector has completed your inspection and all violations, if any, have been corrected, you will be given a sticker with an individual number that is assigned to your facility, and the year that the sticker was awarded.
To meet the annual requirements, an Application for Registered Operation must be completely filled out, and submitted to the Bexar County Fire Marshal’s Office along with the fee listed on the application. Once the Fire Inspector has completed your inspection and all violations, if any, have been corrected, you will be given a sticker with an individual number that is assigned to your facility, and the year that the sticker was awarded will be punched.