When someone mentions the Fire Department, most people think about large, red, shiny trucks with lights and loud sirens. They envision heroes dressed in heavy protective clothing, who always seem to "run into the building while everyone else is running out." The role of the Fire Prevention Bureau, although less visible on a daily basis, is no less important when compared to the mission of the suppression forces in the fire stations. Let us stop to meet the people assigned to this division and learn about the functions which they perform.
The Fire Prevention Bureau is staffed by ten Fire Investigators, three Fire Inspectors, one Deputy Fire Marshal and one Fire Marshal. Meet our staff and review our backgrounds. The responsibilities of our Bureau are divided into three areas:
- Fire Code Compliance
The members of the Bureau have earned certification through the State of North Carolina as Fire Inspectors. As such, we are authorized to conduct fire inspections in order to enforce the North Carolina Fire Prevention Code. The Code addresses hazards and life-safety issues which can endanger business owners, employees, patrons, and fire fighters. Inspectors document violations and educate the responsible party on how to comply with the Code. Life-safety violations must be corrected immediately; other types of violations, however, must be corrected within ten (10) business days. Each engine and truck company in the Fire Suppression division is staffed by personnel who are also certified as N.C. Fire Inspectors. These personnel assist with the management of the Inspection program. The Fire Department strives to inspect all occupancies (with the exception of one- and two-family dwellings) on an annual basis. The city assesses inspection fees for certain violations of the Fire Code which threaten life safety. Information regarding the false alarm ordinance, special inspection requirements, the re-inspection process, and procedures for appealing violations can be found in the Inspections Special Requirements section.
- Plan Review
- The Plan Review section is responsible for reviewing building construction plans to ensure that they are designed in compliance with the Code. These personnel also review fire protection equipment plans for accuracy prior to approving their installation. Examples would include fire alarm systems, fire sprinkler and standpipe systems, restaurant hood and spray booth extinguishing systems and storage tank installation. (Contractors submitting plans should follow the respective submittal requirements. Plans, required items, and summary sheets can now be submitted via e-mail for review. Information is included in the submittal requirements.) Once the plans have been approved, you will receive notification via email or fax for all submittals. The subcontractor may then install the system. After installation is completed, an Assistant Fire Marshal inspects the system to ensure that it meets the specifications of the approved plans. Construction plan comments can also be found on InspectNet.
North Carolina General Statutes require the Fire Chief or his/her designee to investigate the cause of every fire in their jurisdiction. Bureau personnel have received specialized training in Fire Investigations and have either attained certification as a North Carolina Fire Investigator or are working toward this goal. After a fire has been extinguished, suppression personnel will complete a preliminary investigation. If the cause of the fire cannot be determined, is suspicious, or involves a fatality, a fire investigator will respond to assist with the incident. The Bureau staff rotate on-call responsibilities, providing accessibility 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. To anonymously report information concerning a fire, call our Arson Hotline at 336-773-7997 or Crime stoppers at 336-727-2800.
The Fire Prevention Bureau represents the Fire Department in Operation Impact, the city initiative designed to address code violations and problem areas citywide.
Fire Protection System Impairments
In the event a required fire protection system must be taken out of service for repairs, maintenance, or another reason, a representative of your company must submit an Impairment Request to the Fire Prevention Bureau. A fire investigator will review the request and notify you if and when it is approved along with any requirements to be satisfied. The Impairment Request should be placed on company letterhead and indicate the following:
- Type of System (Fire Alarm, Automatic Sprinkler, Standpipe, Clean Agent, etc.).
- Dates and Times when system will be placed out of service and placed back into service.
- Location of System.
- Contact person and contact telephone numbers.
The impairment request can be sent by e-mail to IMPAIRMENTS@cityofwsfire.org.
Electronic Plan Review
Contractors may submit revised construction plans electronically to email@example.com. Sub-contractors may submit fire protection plans, such as fire alarm, sprinkler/standpipe, automatic extinguishing systems for hoods and spray booths and tank installation plans electronically to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Details may be found in our Submittal Requirements section. Once all required materials have been compiled, send them by e-mail to email@example.com.
For additional information concerning the Fire Prevention Bureau, contact Robert Owens at 336-773-7971 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.