HOW DO I SCHEDULE AN INSPECTION?
If you would like to schedule an inspection over the phone, please call our main line at 253-798-7179 and select option 1. You will need to provide 3 pieces of information:
- A permit number and/or site addres
- The name and number for the contact who will be in site
- Your preferred date of inspection
COMMERCIAL INSPECTION PROGRAM (CIP)
WHO WILL BE INSPECTED?
All occupancies in unincorporated Pierce County, other than 1 and 2 family dwellings, are considered commercial occupancies and are included in this program. Cities and towns conduct their own programs designed to meet the needs of their jurisdictions.
WHAT KIND OF FIRE HAZARDS ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
- Blocked or obstructed exits or aisles
- Burnt out exit lights
- Excessive accumulation of combustible materials
- Improper storage of combustible or flammable liquids
- Lack of fire extinguishing systems or fire extinguishers
- Other hazards, such as poor housekeeping, that contribute to fire involvement
- Overloading electrical circuits
- Use of extension cords in lieu of permanent wiring
WHY ARE WE INSPECTING YOUR OCCUPANCY?
It’s the law. Washington State Law (RCW 19.27.110) adopted the International Fire Code, requiring local governments to enforce the Code within their jurisdictions. The Fire Code mandates periodic fire and life safety inspections of commercial type occupancies. This inspection is performed to prevent and/or limit the severity of fires. It is different from pre-incident planning surveys conducted by your local fire district, which are done to help them fight a fire should one occur.
The CIP was developed through cooperative efforts of the Pierce County Fire Chiefs’ Association, Pierce County Fire Commissioners’ Association, Pierce County Executive’s Office, Pierce County Risk Management Department, and the Pierce County Fire Prevention Bureau. Representatives of these groups met over the course of several years to develop a program that provides the best in fire prevention service with the least disruption to your business.
HOW OFTEN ARE THESE INSPECTIONS CONDUCTED?
The frequency of inspection is determined by resource allocation and personnel availability. Currently, you can plan on being inspected approximately every 12 to 18 months. We will make every effort to conduct your inspection at a reasonable time; e.g., an inspection would not be scheduled for a restaurant during peak activity periods.
IS THERE A FEE FOR THIS SERVICE?
State law provides for jurisdictions to charge sufficient fees to recover the cost of conducting fire inspections. Although we wish we did not have to charge a fee, the cost of operating the inspection program makes it necessary. Therefore, there is a fee charged to each business inspected. The fee for this inspection is based on the square footage of the occupancy being inspected. The minimum fee is $55.00. The fee increases incrementally based on the size of the occupancy. The initial fee includes up to two reinspections, if needed, to verify compliance. NOTE: An additional fee of $110.00 will be charged for each reinspection after the second reinspection, if needed.
HOW DO I FIND OUT THE RESULTS OF THE INSPECTION?
HOW ARE FEES PAID?
You will receive an invoice in the mail from the Pierce County Finance Department. You may pay with a check to the Pierce County Finance Department and mail to 950 Fawcett Avenue, Suite 100, Tacoma, WA 98402. Debit/Credit cards are not accepted. For any additional information on invoices, please contact Vanessa Soun in our Finance Division at (253) 798-2218.
WHAT HAPPENS IF DEFICIENCIES ARE FOUND?
If deficiencies are noted during the inspection the Fire Prevention Bureau will schedule a reinspection, allowing you adequate time to correct problems. For minor deficiencies self-reinspection may be permitted allowing you to conduct your own reinspection and mail in the results. The reinspection schedule for correcting deficiencies is as follows:
1st reinspection ....... 30 days *
2nd reinspection ....... 15 days *
3rd reinspection ....... **
* included in the inspection fee
** all reinspections after the 2nd will be scheduled and an additional charge of $110 per inspection will be assessed.
This compliance schedule may be altered if an acceptable timetable for compliance is agreed to and documented. Deficiencies will be prioritized with respect to their degree of hazard with emphasis on those items that adversely affect life safety. However, only those items that require an extended period for correction, as determined by the Fire Marshal, will be considered for a time extension. All other corrections must be completed within the time schedule listed above. If voluntary compliance cannot be obtained, the case may be referred to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office for appropriate action.
If you disagree with our interpretation of the International Fire Code on an enforcement issue, you have the right to appeal our decision. Information on this process will be provided upon request.
The International Fire Code requires “Fire Code Permits” for activities, processes, and materials deemed above average in hazard potential. Pierce County has two types of these permits: Renewable and Limited.
- Renewable permits are associated with CIP inspections and include such things as place of assembly, welding, candle use, storage or handling of flammable liquids, etc. Fees for renewable permits are included in the Commercial Inspection Program fees.
- Limited permits are normally associated with activities or processes with specific start and end dates such as tank removal or installation, carnivals and fairs, fireworks displays, etc. Fees for limited permits are charged at the time of permit application and vary in price.
WHO IS DOING THE INSPECTION?
The Pierce County Fire Prevention Bureau personnel conducting your inspection are professional, trained, career employees. They will identify themselves and have proper I.D. with them at the time of your inspection. They are employees of Pierce County, not your local fire district.
Our intent is to conduct this inspection with your cooperation to facilitate code enforcement. We emphasize voluntary compliance whenever possible.
We are pleased to have the opportunity to work together with you in continuing to build a fire safe environment in Pierce County. The primary function of the Fire Prevention Bureau is to save lives and protect property from the devastation of fire. These inspections, with your cooperation, can significantly reduce the probability of fire occurring in your building. Further, a comprehensive fire inspection program can reduce fire and casualty insurance premiums by improving a fire district’s rating.