Business Tips

5 reasons your facility will fail a fire inspection

Heather Mahr, a Ferguson author

by Heather Mahr


Passing a fire inspection is a hurdle that property managers and facility maintenance professionals face on a regular basis. Many municipalities require a fire inspection to be performed by local fire department officials at least once a year in multifamily properties, hotels and other facilities that are open to the public. While specific fire inspection requirements differ from one municipality to the next, the causes for failing an inspection are similar. Read about five common fire hazards to watch out for in your facility and learn how to pass a fire inspection.

1. Failing to maintain fire systems.

Smoke detectors, sprinklers and carbon monoxide detectors should be regularly inspected and maintained by a professional to ensure they are in working condition. Check with your local fire department to determine how frequently you need to have your fire system serviced.

Bonus tip: Municipal fire inspectors often require documentation of fire system maintenance. Save all of your facility’s service records to prove that the fire system is regularly maintained.

2. Inadequate signage and markings.

Safety signage and markings are critical for ensuring building occupants and fire department officials know where to go and what to do in the event of a fire.

  • Mark your facility with building numbers that are large enough to be seen from the street. Check with your local fire department to find out if your municipality requires building numbers to be a minimum height.
  • Check emergency exit signs to make sure that they are properly illuminated.
  • Fire protection equipment, like fire extinguishers, need to be clearly marked and easily accessible. Hang signage to indicate the location of fire protection rooms and electrical control panels.

3. Blocked egress and building accessibility.

Emergency exits, doorways, hallways and stairwells must be kept free from blockages. Exit doors should lock from the outside only. In high-rise multifamily buildings, regularly inspect fire escapes to make sure they are working properly and are kept clear from any obstructions.

Bonus tip: Strictly enforce towing in fire lanes and in front of fire hydrants to prevent vehicles from blocking fire department officials in the event of an emergency.

4. Improper storage and waste disposal.

Allow building occupants to store items in designated areas only. Hallways and stairways should not be used as storage areas. Provide adequate trash and recycling containers for building occupants to dispose of waste materials, and have them emptied on a regular basis. Keep trash and recycling containers stored a safe distance from the building, and invest in separate receptacles for cigarette butt disposal.

5. Electrical hazards.

Regularly inspect your building’s electrical components for signs of wear and deterioration. Check electrical outlets and switches to make sure that cover plates are properly secured. Hiring a certified electrician to perform electrical maintenance will ensure that your building meets the electrical system codes for your municipality.

Bonus tip: Decorative holiday lighting often requires the use of extension cords, which are a potential fire hazard if used improperly. Allow a designated time frame for holiday lights to be displayed, and require that they be taken down after a certain date to keep extension cord use to a minimum.

Want to see more tips and tricks to help your business or profession? Search a wide variety of topics and ideas at’s Ideas and Learning Center.

Heather Mahr, a Ferguson author

Heather Mahr

As a writer, Heather is dedicated to providing readers with valuable information. She is passionate about helping people find the answers they need to make their life easier with her words.