Fire Prevention and Life Safety

Information on the several units involved in fire prevention and life safety: Fire Code Inspections, Fire Protection Systems Retesting, Environmental Investigations, and Fire Investigations.

Page updated on Jun 22, 2016 at 12:34 PM

The Fire Prevention and Life Safety Section is comprised of several units - Fire Code InspectionsFire Protection Systems RetestingEnvironmental Investigations & Fire Investigations. The section 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. Staff inspect existing properties for compliance with these codes as well as providing tips to 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 section is commanded by an assistant fire chief.

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


During Business Hours (M-F, 7:30AM - 4PM), call 703.746.5227

Other Than Business Hours (including weekends and holidays), call the "24 hour Nuisance Abatement Hotline" - 703.836.0041        

Contact the Fire Prevention staff regarding fire safety violations at 703.746.5227 or submit a complaint via email

Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday, 7:30AM - 4PM 










    Russell Furr
    Chief Deputy Fire Marshal
    Daytime Supervisor


    Andrea Buchanan
    Chief Deputy Fire Marshal
    Evening Supervisor

    A. Maurice Jones, Jr.,
    Fire Protection Engineer



    Fire Code Inspections are conducted daily by a staff of fire marshals supervised by an east and west end supervisor.  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 such as:
    • Commercial Overcrowding
    • Fire Safety Inspections

    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.

    Virginia Fire Prevention Code Appeals 


    Investigations Program

    Fire Marshals conduct investigations of fire and explosion related incidents within the City, as well as incidents involving the release of hazardous materials and environmental crimes. Fire Marshals are empowered to conduct criminal investigations, make arrests and prepare cases for prosecution. Fire Marshals also investigate burn related injuries and construction accidents.


    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 and coordinates information to other City agencies about hazardous and industrial related uses within the City of Alexandria.  

    Hours of Operation:  Monday - Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. 


    What is Hazardous Material?

    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)


    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    

    • 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