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Oakland Fire Department Inspection Services
The primary purposes of the Oakland Fire Department (OFD) as related to prevention and risk mitigation are to reduce the risks of fire and other types of emergencies in the community. The Oakland Municipal Code, the California Fire Code, the California Health and Safety Code, and the California Building Code Standards establish minimum regulatory fire and life safety requirements for the installation and maintenance of buildings, equipment, and activities throughout the City of Oakland.
The Fire Prevention Bureau (FPB), a branch of the Oakland Fire Department, oversees all inspection services related to compliance with the aforementioned municipal, state, and federal fire codes and standards. The four types of inspection services include: Fire Code, Commercial, Vegetation Management, and Hazardous Materials. The FPB Inspectors and OFD Operations personnel conduct field inspections to determine compliance with all applicable codes and standards by developing and maintaining long standing relationships with business owners, community agencies, and residents in an effort to reduce risks of fire and other emergencies, while increasing fire prevention and safety awareness throughout Oakland communities.
- Fire Code Inspections
This unit is comprised of inspectors with specialized knowledge in the CA Fire Code and supports the development and building permit process, as well as determining compliance for existing buildings and occupancies throughout Oakland. Through field inspections, this group determines compliance with applicable codes and standards, and works closely with owners and/or occupants to monitor on-going maintenance and compliance. Inspection types include new construction, care facilities, institutions, jails, high-rise business and residential buildings, places of worship, mid-rise residential buildings, special vents/activities, and inspections in response to citizen complaints. Fire Code inspections are generally scheduled by contractors performing work on buildings, owners and/or tenants seeking to modify building or tenant spaces, citizens concerned with fire safety, and FPB inspectors conducting annual obligatory inspections.
- Commercial Inspections
The Commercial Inspection Program mandates that annual inspections of all commercial facilities and multi-family residences (apartments, hotels, motels, etc.) be conducted as designated by the State of California Health and Safety Code, and City of Oakland ordinance. These annual field inspections, that are managed and directed by the Fire Prevention Bureau, are conducted by the members of the OFD Operations Division annually, on a block-by-block basis, with the intent to inspect all commercial & residential properties as it pertains to the code and ordinance; provide fire and other life safety hazards education to business owners/occupants; and conduct pre-fire planning for future emergency response. The only properties exempt from said inspections are single-family dwellings and duplex buildings.
Commercial inspections are conducted as time permits during a fire station’s 24-hour shift and are not routinely scheduled on an appointment basis. As a general rule, if an inspection was conducted last year, business owners/occupants should receive an inspection within 30 days before or after the previous years’ inspection. Additionally, if there are no guarantees that an inspection will be completed due to fire department emergency response needs.
This is an excellent program that provides fire safety personnel an opportunity to meet business owners/occupants of the community which they serve. It is our goal to provide you excellent service by identifying those activities, processes, or construction flaws which can lead to unwanted fires, and other types of accidents or emergencies.
- Vegetation Management Inspection Services
This unit works together with the members of the OFD Operations Division annually, who approach inspections on a block-by-block basis, with the intent of inspecting approximately 26,000 properties for compliance with the CA Fire Code relative to vegetation management in the high-fire area of the Oakland hills. While upon first inspection the compliance rate is less than 50%, the program achieves an annual average compliance rate of 95% upon second inspection, and thereafter maintains a 98% compliance rate throughout the high-fire season. This unit also works very closely with the Wildfire Prevention Assessment District (WPAD) Advisory Board. Together FPB staff and the WPAD members promote fire safety and prevention in the hills area in an effort to prevent another disaster such as the one which occurred in 1991.
- Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA)/Hazardous Materials Inspection Services
This unit conducts inspections to ensure compliance and regulation of hazardous materials facilities and sites. This unit provides program oversight, inspections, permit issuance and maintenance of 1460 facilities within the City of Oakland. Additionally, they conduct investigations of unauthorized releases of hazardous materials, illegal dumping and discharges to the City’s storm drainage system.
All fees charged for providing the various inspection services are based on a cost-recovery schedule set forth by the Master Fee Schedule, a City of Oakland ordinance, and are ratified by the Oakland City Council during an annual process. You can view all OFD fees at: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CityAdministration/d/BudgetOffice/index.htm
Commercial Inspection Program Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Commercial Inspection Program?
The Commercial Inspection Program (CIP) is an annual field inspection program that provides fire department personnel and property/business owners the opportunity to evaluate fire and life safety systems and components, and develop safe business practices for buildings 3 stories in height or less and the tenant spaces within, and all 1st floor retail/commercial spaces in all buildings.
What is the purpose of the CIP?
The purpose of the program is to provide property/business owners with valuable information including building maintenance requirements and recommendations to achieve compliance with mandated standards in accordance with the California Fire Code (CFC) and Oakland Municipal Codes (OMC) in order to reduce the risk of fire and associated hazards identified.
Who performs the inspection?
Commercial inspections are conducted by firefighters, and provide property/business owners an opportunity to meet fire personnel and learn valuable safe business practices. Facilities requiring enforcement due to insufficient correction activities will be sent to the Office of the Oakland Fire Marshal for further action.
How often are the inspections conducted?
Inspections occur at least one time annually. In some instances, high-hazard occupancies may require additional inspections based on state and federal mandates.
What happens if hazards are found during the inspection?
Once deficiencies have been identified, the property/business owner is required to immediately correct deficiencies cited, and a re-inspection to confirm correction of deficiencies will occur between 15 to 30 days after the initial inspection.
Is there a fee associated the CIP inspection(s)?
Yes, there is a fee/s associated with the inspections conducted. Additional fees may be charged for inspection cases requiring administrative, civil, or criminal offenses. The fee/s charged are outlined in the City of Oakland’s Master Fee Schedule which is updated annually and ratified by the Oakland City Council in a two-hearing process. For current fee/s associated with the CIP inspection, you can view the current Master Fee Schedule by accessing the following link: City of Oakland’s Master Fee Schedule; Ordinance #13024.1
How is the inspection fee(s) established?
The inspections fee(s) have been established based on the time necessary for a series of activities conducted by fire prevention personnel such as; code adoption process, training, meetings, staffing costs, and other operational costs associated with the inspection. The time associated with completing an inspection extends far beyond the actual physical inspection time on location. There are numerous administrative duties; file management, data management, and research activities, that are all a part of completing an inspection.
When will my building/business be inspected?
Inspections are conducted by fire suppression personnel as time permits. If an inspection was conducted last year, property/business owners should receive an inspection approximately 30 days before or after the previous years’ inspection. For example; if your property/business is inspected May 13, 2011, the next annual inspection will most likely occur between April 1 and June 30, 2012.
Can I make an appointment to schedule my inspections?
No, due to demands on the fire department we cannot guarantee a specific date and time for the inspection. Inspection dates are milestone dates and we try to keep within the date and time scheduled however there are no guarantees due to fire department emergency response needs.
If I receive a bill or inspection notice after I have sold my property or business, what should I do?
Contact the Oakland Fire Department’s, Fire Prevention Bureau at 510-238-3851.
What code requirements will the fire department look for when conducting the inspection?
Following is a list of the most common items which, when maintained improperly have the potential for significant injury to occupants and may cause unnecessary damage to structures.
- Egress (Exiting Components): Doors, latching hardware, door closures must be in good working order, and keeping ALL storage away from exit pathways. Exit signage, exit lighting, and emergency power supplies are working properly. Maintaining the exit system is one of the most important components to the occupants’ safety.
- Extinguishing Systems: Fire sprinkler and standpipe systems and kitchen cooking fire suppression systems must be inspected at intervals required in California Health and Safety Code Title 19, Chapter 5. Click on http://www.archive.org/details/gov.ca.ccr.19 and got to Chapter 5 for more details. Access pathways are not less than 3-feet wide and maintained without obstruction to all system valves, gauges, and connections.
- Fire Extinguishers: Required at exits and in strategic areas of the building to provide access by the occupant along a travel path not to exceed 75 feet. Extinguishers shall be serviced annually, when needle is not in the green, safety tampers or trigger pin is removed or damaged. Click on http://www.archive.org/details/gov.ca.ccr.19 and go to Chapter 3 for more details.
- Electrical: Electrical components are maintained in good working order. Outlet, light, circuit covers are installed and not broken, circuits are properly labeled, access doors to electrical circuits, and panels are labeled, and accessible without obstruction. Improper electrical can cause serious injury, proper maintenance and use of electrical devices can significantly reduce injury.
- Fire/Smoke Alarm Equipment: Smoke alarms are required in ALL residential occupancies. Most alarms have a 10 year shelf life. Owners must provide annual maintenance/service records upon request. Fire alarm systems must be serviced annually and records identifying 100% of all devices have been tested within12 months prior to the inspection must be provide upon request. Access pathways are at least 3-feet wide and without any obstruction to all panels, power supplies, and devices.
- Permits: Operational permits are required for certain activities. The most common permits; public assembly (50 or more persons), combustible storage (paper, plastic, wood) in excess of 2,500 cubic feet, hazardous material handling/storage. Note: The State Fire Codes identifies 49 separate permits. Contact fire prevention at 510-238-3851 for more information on obtaining operational permits.
- General Housekeeping: Overall building construction maintenance, address visibility, storage organization, equipment maintenance records, and debris free environment.
- Business Tax Certificate: Is displayed in a conspicuous place, current, and available upon request.
- Illumination: Egress pathways (corridors, hallways, stairs, and pathways) are properly illuminated and provided with an emergency power supply.
What happens if I do not correct the deficiencies found during the inspection?
Firefighters will conduct two additional inspections in an effort to gain compliance, for which the appropriate fees will be applied. After the third inspection, the case will be sent to the Office of the Oakland Fire Marshal for enforcement. Inspectors will implement enforcement along with the penalties, ranging from civil penalties of $50 up to $200 per/deficiency per/day depending on the severity of the deficiency, until such time as the deficiency is corrected. Enforcement will continue up to and including charges filed by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.
Can I appeal the inspection fee?
Yes, to appeal your invoice, send a written letter to the Fire Prevention Bureau at the below address, outlining your claim(s), enclose a copy of your invoice, and any other supporting documents, along with a phone number and/or email address so we may contact you. We will send a written response as to the outcome of your appeal.
Oakland Fire Department/ Fire Prevention Bureau
Attention: CIP Account Receivable
250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 3341
Oakland, CA 94612
What if I don’t agree with the inspection report findings?
To dispute a code deficiency finding, send a written letter to the Fire Prevention Bureau at the below address, outlining your claim(s), enclose a copy of your inspection report, and any other supporting documents, along with a phone number and/or email address so we may contact you. We will send a written response as to the outcome of your appeal.
Oakland Fire Department/ Fire Prevention Bureau
Attention: CIP Inspection Appeals
250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 3341
Oakland, CA 94612