Fire Codes – New Businesses

The review procedure on this website does not relieve the owner, architect or engineer of responsibility under the applicable codes.

For people interested in occupying or purchasing a commercial building, it is recommended to do a pre-walk through visit of the site or building with an inspector to identify fire code issues. Common issues include: construction integrity, the possible occupancy uses, automatic sprinkler and fire alarm requirements, number of exits, travel distances to exits, door swing direction and corridor widths.

Anytime renovations or new construction are planned, the responsible person(s) shall have stamped or approved drawings forwarded to the inspection bureau to review plans. The Parkersburg Fire Department requests one set of hard copy blueprints and an electronic or PDF file of drawings. These are used to identify any LifeSafety Code issues (which should provide the safest and most cost preventive measures) prior to beginning the construction phases.

Due to other pending demands or the complexity of your project, the Fire Prevention Bureau may require up to two weeks to complete the process of plans review.

The Fire Prevention Bureau utilizes City of Parkersburg Codified Ordinances, the West Virginia state fire code, and the NFPA codes for Life Safety and fire code compliance.

The following are common fire code concerns. The definitions below are not stated per code, but only supplied as a reference.

Building Addresses – shall be posted on public buildings facing the roadway and contrasting to the background and be 4inches high by ½ inch width.

Aisles – shall be maintained usually to a minimum of 36 inches or equal width to exit near the exits (Pending occupancy use of building and capacity of people).

Fire alarms – shall be tested and inspected as per code, but a minimum monthly test for most occupancy uses. Carbon Monoxide detectors shall be hardwired with alarm system if automatic alarm exists. Carbon Monoxide detectors are required for any residential occupancy in the State of West Virginia. To ensure operational integrity, the fire alarm system shall have an approved maintenance and testing program complying with the applicable requirements. Records of conducted maintenance and testing and a copy of the certificate of compliance should be maintained. Manual pull stations shall be located no greater than 200 ft apart. Manual Pull stations shall be the same operational type. Manual fire alarm boxes shall be provided within 5 ft of exit doorways. Each manual fire alarm box on a system shall be accessible, unobstructed, and visible.

Storing Combustibles – shall be stored and disposed of properly. (A general rule of 36 inches clear space shall be maintained near any heat producing devices, electrical panel boxes and 24 inches clear space maintained from the ceiling.)

Electrical -There are a multitude of common electrical problems, but a few are: protective domes or covers over light bulbs, all connections of wiring be in a protected junction box, exposed wiring protected from physical damage, conduit shall be securely fastened, GFCI protection for any receptacle within 6 ft of wet locations or outside, open knock outs in electrical panels shall be sealed, extension cords used as permanent wiring is prohibited, proper covers on all electrical boxes, switches, breakers shall be identified and labeled and conduit must be secured.

Fire extinguishers – shall be properly installed, mounted and kept in conspicuous locations and be fully charged at all times.  Generally they should be mounted no higher than 5 ft and never lower than 4 inches from ground. The height should be that the top of the extinguisher is 3 ½ ft above the floor. The extinguishers are required to be tagged with annual inspection tag securely attached to the extinguisher indicating year and month inspection. Fire extinguishers shall be within 75 ft travel distance and no greater than 150 ft apart from each other.

Exits – means of egress shall be continuously maintained free of all obstructions or impediments to full instant use in the case of fire or other emergency.  Door leaf swing should be in the direction of egress. Building shall have a sufficient number of exits. Remote exits shall be within proper travel distance. There should be no delay in operating an exit (shall not require the use of a key, a tool, or special knowledge or effort for operation from the egress side).

Corridors shall provide exit access without passing through any intervening rooms other than corridors, lobbies, and other spaces permitted to be open. No furnishings, decorations or other objects shall obstruct exits or their access thereto, egress there from, or visibility thereof. Mirrors shall not be placed on exit door leaves. Mirrors shall not be placed in or adjacent to any exit in such a manner as to confuse the direction of egress. Illuminations of means of egress shall be continuous during the time that the conditions of occupancy require that the means of egress be available for use. Any door, passage or stairway that is neither an exit nor a way of exit access and that is located or arranged so that it is likely to be mistaken for an exit shall be identified by a sign that reads as follows: NO EXIT. The NO EXIT sign shall have the word NO in letters 2 inch high, with a stroke width of 3/8 inch and the word EXIT in letters 1 inch high, with the word EXIT below the word NO, unless such a sign is an approved existing sign. Exit discharge shall be illuminated to provide illumination for 12 sq ft. Access to exits shall be marked by approved readily visible signs in all cases where the exit or way to reach the exit is not readily apparent to the occupants. Walking surfaces shall be slip resistant under foreseeable conditions. The walking surface of each element in the means of egress shall be uniformly slip resistant along the natural path of travel.

Fire Doors – Doors, shutters and windows shall be operable at all times. A door leaf normally required to be kept closed shall not be secured in the open position at any time and shall be self-closing or automatic-closing. Door openings and the surrounding areas shall be kept clear of anything that could obstruct or interfere with the free operation of the door.

Fire Escapes – All fire escape stairs shall have walls or guards and handrails on both sides. Noncombustible materials shall be used for the construction of all components of fire escape stairs.

Fire Walls and Enclosures – Required fire-resistive construction, including fire barriers, fire walls, exterior walls due to location on property , fire resistive requirements based on type of construction, draft stop partitions, and roof coverings, shall be maintained and shall be properly repaired, restored, or replaced where damaged, altered, breached, penetrated, removed or improperly installed. Where required, fire-rated gypsum wallboard walls or ceilings that are damaged gypsum wallboard shall be replaced or returned to the required level of fire-resistance using a listed repair system or using materials and methods equivalent to the original construction. . Interior Wall or Ceiling Finish that is required elsewhere in this Code to be Class A, B or C shall be classified based on test results from ASTM E 84, Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials.

Emergency Lighting – Emergency lighting shall be provided in most occupancy but if not required highly recommended. Emergency illuminations shall be provided for a minimum of 1 1/2 hours in the event of failure of normal lightning. Places for emergency lighting should be to illuminate the entire means of egress, restrooms and other confined areas that may be occupied where egress may be difficult in the event of a power outage or other emergency.

Q. What does NFPA 101 address?
A. Provisions are included for all types of occupancies, with requirements for egress, features of fire protection, sprinkler systems, alarms, emergency lighting, smoke barriers, and special hazard protection.   Table of Contents

Q. What is NFPA 101?
A. The Life Safety Code is the most widely used source for strategies to protect people based on building construction, protection, and occupancy features that minimize the effects of fire and related hazards. Unique in the field, it is the only document that covers life safety in both new and existing structures.   Official document scope.

Q. What edition of NFPA 101, The Life Safety Code® has WV adopted?
A. The 2009 edition.

Q. What edition of NFPA 1, The Fire Prevention Code has WV adopted?
A. The 2009 edition.

Q. How long will it take to review my plans?
A. It will take approximately two weeks.

Q. What edition of the International Building Code has WV adopted?
A. The IBC 2009 edition has been adopted, with a number of amendments.

Q. How many copies of the plan should I submit?
A. We need one printed copy and a PDF file of the plans. The final approval letter will represent approval.

Q. Is there a fee to have a plan reviewed?
A. No, there are currently no fees for plans and review.

Q. Can I speak with a plan reviewer or inspector about my project?
A. Yes, please call (304)424-8522 to make an appointment.

 Common problems with concession stands

All Concessionaires shall meet or exceed all applicable Local, State and National Fire Codes.

All Concessionaires shall have at least one 2A20BC size fire extinguisher and a Class K fire extinguisher for cooking fires, properly mounted near the exit, and where applicable, near all deep fat frying operations. All fire extinguishers shall be inspected annually by qualified personnel with a tag securely attached indicating the month and year inspection was done.

All gas cylinders shall be properly secured to a stationary object.

All gas hoses shall be free of leaks.

No open flames, fireworks or open flame devices will be permitted without proper suppression systems available.

All tent type structures must meet NFPA 701 (Flame-Resistant textiles and Films)

All fixtures, including light bulbs, shall be protected by guards, covers, domes or shades.

All electrical equipment will be inspected by the Code Enforcement and Fire departments.