The Fire Prevention and Life Safety (FPLS) Section is comprised of several units – Fire Prevention Inspections, Fire Protection Systems Retesting, Environmental 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, 2018)
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.
- A. Maurice Jones, Jr., Fire Protection Engineer Supervisor
703.746.4256 | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Andrea Buchanan, Chief Deputy Fire Marshal
Chief of Fire and Explosive Investigations and Special Projects
703.746.4186 | email@example.com
- Russell Furr, Chief Deputy Fire Marshal
Fire Prevention and Environmental Investigations
703.746.4247 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
- Fire Prevention Permit Application
- Special Event Requirements – If you are planning a special event or are an event coordinator, please take the time to read this policy . The policy gives guidelines and requirements for items such as tents, open flame and propane cooking devices, carnivals and fairs, outdoor assembly events, amusement devices and other issues associated with many typical events, as well as some general fire safety requirements
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.
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.
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)
- Butane, ethanol, methane (natural gas)
- Solvents, paint thinners and strippers, varnish
- Strong cleaning agents (drain cleaners, metal cleaners, brush and paint cleaning agents)
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
- Corrosive materials
- Toxic 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.
City of Alexandria
- Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ) - responsible for the administration of the City's air, water and noise improvement programs, which help preserve and protect the environment, public health and welfare. The following are activities and programs regulated by OEQ:
- Monitoring air and water quality
- Issuance of noise variance permits
- Investigation of pollution complaints
- Inspection of storm water management facilities
- City of Alexandria Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) - responsible for creating and distributing an emergency plan that addresses extremely hazardous substances (as specified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
- City of Alexandria Office of Emergency Management - coordinates the City's processes of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery from man-made and natural disasters.
- Alexandria Health Department - information about healthcare programs, disease control and prevention, and environmental health issues. The Health Department regulates food and health safety in restaurants, food vendors and pools.
- Alexandria Sanitation Authority - operates and maintains the wastewater treatment plant that serves the City of Alexandria.
- Eco-City Alexandria - to create an Eco-City Charter and Environmental Action Plan to guide Alexandria toward sustainability.
Commonwealth of Virginia
- Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) - responsible for the administration of state air and water quality programs and regulation of waste management. DEQ also investigates pollution complaints.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - responsible for protection of health and the environment. The EPA enforces Federal environmental laws and administers Federal air, water and pollution programs.