Fire Prevention and Life Safety

The Fire Prevention and Life Safety (FPLS) Section is comprised of several units – Fire Code Inspections, Fire Protection Systems Retesting, Environmental Investigations & Fire Investigations. FPLS administers the provisions of the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code, applicable sections of the Virginia Construction Code and related Code of the City of Alexandria.

Page updated on Aug 17, 2018 at 1:37 PM

FPLS team leads a training session on fire protection systems for the City of Alexandria's Department of General Services.The Fire Prevention and Life Safety (FPLS) Section is comprised of several units –  Fire Prevention InspectionsFire Protection Systems RetestingEnvironmental Investigations &  Fire Investigations. The Fire Prevention and Life Safety Section is responsible for enforcement of the  Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code, applicable sections of the Virginia Construction Code and related sections of the Code of the City of Alexandria.

Staff inspect existing properties for compliance with these codes as well as providing information to owners and occupants for achieving code compliance. The section provides inspection and oversight for the retesting of existing fire protection systems. Inspection staff respond to complaints and conduct annual inspections to ensure proper operation of these critical life safety systems. Fire Marshals investigate incidents relating to fires, explosion related incidents, as well as, incidents involving the release of hazardous materials and environmental crimes through the  Environmental Investigation Unit.

The Fire Prevention and Life Safety Section is part of the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, which is under the supervision of Deputy Chief Corey Smedley.

 NEW! Fire Prevention Permit Fee Schedule (Effective July 1, 2013)


Contact the Fire Prevention and Life Safety Section 

For emergencies, call 911.

During Business Hours (M-F, 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.), contact Fire Prevention staff regarding fire safety violations or complaints at 703.746.5227. After hours, contact the fire department's non-emergency line at 703.746.4444.


Supervisors


Fire Prevention Inspections 

Fire Prevention Inspections are conducted daily. Annual fire prevention permit inspections, complaint inspections and proactive inspections are conducted to ensure compliance with the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code and related City Codes.

Fire Marshals respond to complaints and violations of the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code such as overcrowding of assembly occupancies, unlawful change of occupancy, improper storage of or disposal of hazardous materials, tampering or unlawful use of fire protection systems, unlawful storage and use of fireworks and other fire-related hazards that may potentially cause injuries to people or damage to property. Fire Marshals also inspect residential daycare locations throughout the City.

Fire Prevention Permit Program – provides for annual inspections of properties that store or use hazardous materials or conduct hazardous processes such as welding, auto repair and processes involving the use of flammable or combustible liquids and gases. Additionally, the program includes annual inspections of all assembly and educational occupancies within the City to include restaurants, schools, churches, hotels and day care facilities. Permits are issued annually as part of the inspection process. Fire prevention permits are also issued for certain temporary or special events.

Virginia Fire Prevention Code Appeals 


Fire Investigations Division

The Fire Investigations Division investigates to determine the origin and cause of fires in the City of Alexandria. The primary purpose of the Fire Investigations Division is to determine the origin and cause of fires. The data collected during a fire investigation is of great significance since it can expose a serious crime, such as arson. It also provides valuable statistics on fire trends and formation essential in developing programs to reduce fire risk in the future. The Fire Investigations Division is responsible for investigating the origin and cause of all fires and explosions within the City of Alexandria. They also investigate fire-related deaths, burn injuries, suspected explosive devices, and bomb threats.

The Fire Investigations Division consists of seven Law Enforcement Fire Marshals who have undergone extensive fire investigation, forensic and law enforcement training. All Alexandria Fire Marshals are sworn law enforcement officers in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Fire Protection Systems Retesting

The Fire Protection Systems Unit (FPS) is comprised of three fire protection retesting teams that are responsible to witness inspection and testing of existing systems. The Fire Protection Systems Unit deals with many different fire protection systems including fire sprinkler, fire pump, standpipe, suppression, fire hydrants, alarm, detection, smoke control, and access control systems.

To schedule a Fire Protection Systems Inspection, call 703.746.4256.

Specialists witness code required inspection, testing, and maintenance on existing fire protection systems to ensure the systems perform as designed, installed, and approved.


Environmental Investigation Unit

The Environmental Investigation Unit (EIU) investigates the release of hazardous materials and environmental crimes, conducts fire code inspections of facilities using and storing hazardous materials, investigate instances of illegal dumping of hazardous waste, tires and other related materials and coordinates information with other City agencies about hazardous and industrial-related uses within the City of Alexandria. Law Enforcement Fire Marshals assigned to conduct environmental investigations are fully sworn law enforcement officers and receive extensive and specific training on hazardous materials and environmental related offenses. 


What are Hazardous Materials?

Hazardous materials are substances or materials, in any form or quantity, which pose unreasonable risk to safety, health or property when released from their container.  Some hazardous materials are more common than others and many can be found within household environments.  Many of these products are used on a daily basis without any incident, but can cause problems if not properly handled or disposed. 

 Examples of common hazardous materials include:

  • Fuel and other petroleum products (gasoline, diesel fuel, transmission fluid, motor oil, brake fluid, kerosene)
  • Propane
  • Butane, ethanol, methane (natural gas)
  • Explosives
  • Solvents, paint thinners and strippers, varnish
  • Strong cleaning agents (drain cleaners, metal cleaners, brush and paint cleaning agents)

Permits

Facilities that store or use hazardous materials may be required to obtain a Fire Prevention Permit required by the  Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code , as amended by the City of Alexandria.

Examples of materials or use of materials that typically require a Fire Prevention Permit:

  • Service Station, Repair Garage, Auto Body Shops
  • Flammable and combustible liquids storage and use
  • Cutting and welding, hot work, use or torch or open flame device
  • Propane storage and use
  • Compressed gases
  • Explosives
  • Corrosive materials
  • Aerosols
  • Toxic materials

Proper Disposal of Hazardous Materials 

Note - it is unlawful to release any hazardous substance or chemical into any storm drain or sewer within the City of Alexandria, including: automotive fluids (oil, antifreeze, brake fluid, gasoline or other motor fuels);  paint, paint thinner, varnish, solvents and any hazardous cleaning chemicals.

  • Many hazardous materials can be recycled through the City of Alexandria  recycling center ; click HERE  for a list of acceptable and unacceptable recyclable hazardous materials.

Related Links

City of Alexandria    

Commonwealth of Virginia 

Federal 

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