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Fire Life Safety Program

The Building Department administers the City of Kalispell's Fire Life Safety Program to ensure new commercial construction not only meets the current building code standards but also meets the current fire codes. Staff is responsible for reviewing construction plans for fire alarm and fire suppression systems installed in new and updated commercial buildings and performs on-site inspections prior to businesses opening to the public. The program also includes fire life safety inspections for existing commercial businesses and state licensed residential facilities and day care centers.

To request a Fire Life Safety Inspection for your business complete the attached form and fax or email it to our office at (406) 758-7739 or bldgdept@kalispell.com.

Drawings required for plan review of fire alarm and fire suppressions systems, both new construction and updated systems, vary. For additional information please contact our office at (406) 758-7730.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a fee for reviewing plans for alarm or sprinkler systems?

Yes, a commercial building permit is required for the review of plans for fire alarm and sprinkler systems.  The fee also includes any necessary inspections that would be required to ensure the systems are installed and working properly.  

Can I speak with a Fire Life Safety Inspector about my building project?

Of course, please call our office at (406) 758-7730 to make arrangements to meet in our office or on-site.

What can a business do to improve fire safety in their workplace?

First line supervisors should conduct work site surveys of their area on a regular basis, at least quarterly. These surveys should include observations of worksite safety and housekeeping issues and should specifically address:

  • Proper storage of chemicals and supplies;
  • Monitoring of electrical equipment, extension cords;
  • Availability and condition of fire safety equipment;
  • Unobstructed access to fire extinguishers, and
  • Emergency evacuation routes.

Also, they should ensure that an emergency evacuation plan is present in work areas and that personnel are familiar with the plan. Emergency egress should be kept clear and every exit clearly marked or the route to it conspicuously identified in such a manner that occupants of the building will readily know the direction of escape from any point.

For businesses with occupancy loads of 50 or greater the main building exit and main pathways to exits are to be marked by illuminated exit signs. Each exit sign (other than internally illuminated signs) are to be illuminated by a reliable light.

All building or business safety equipment (extinguishers, fire hoses, exit signs, emergency lab equipment, etc.) need to be inspected at least annually and repaired or replaced if inoperative, damaged or missing.

At no time should an exit be blocked. Any doorway or passageway which is not an exit or access to an exit but which may be mistaken for an exit must be identified by a sign reading “Not An Exit” or a sign indicating its actual use (i.e. “Storeroom”).

What is a “proper fire extinguisher”?  Are there different kinds of extinguishers for different kinds of fires?

The universal standard extinguisher (good on most small fires you might encounter) for the last 10-20 years is the “ABC”, or multi-purpose extinguisher. It can be used on a Class A, B, or C fire.

  • Class A is ordinary combustible materials such as wood, cloth, paper, etc.;
  • Class B means flammable liquids such as oil, gasoline, kerosene, etc., and
  • Class C refers to the presence of energized electrical circuits (e.g. an electric motor, electrical wiring, etc.

However, there are several other kinds of extinguishers available which are only effective when used on the kind of fire for which they were intended. These include:

  • Pressurized water – Class A only;
  • Carbon dioxide – Class B and C only;
  • “B-C” Dry chemical – Class B and C only;
  • “K” for cooking and kitchen areas, and
  • “D” dry chemical – for self-spontaneous igniting/burning fires, usually these involve combustible metals such as magnesium, zirconium, potassium, and sodium. 

What is a charged extinguisher? How often do extinguishers need to be inspected, tested or serviced?

Extinguishers, fire hoses and other fire safety equipment (alarms, exit signs, emergency lights) need to be checked on a regular basis to ensure they are in working condition.

Typically a quick visual check is to be done at least monthly by an employee or the monitor in the area. Under law, extinguishers and hoses must be checked and documented at least once a year by a qualified inspector. They also must have a sign-off tag (or other documentation) to verify that they have been inspected.

Extinguishers must be recharged anytime that they have been used, if the pin has been pulled (seal broken), or the gauge is not in the proper pressure area. Even if an extinguisher was only used a small amount it must be serviced as the used powder clogs the valve and prevents reuse.   

What types of smoke detectors are there?

There are two basic types of smoke detectors: Ionization and photo-electronic. Both are effective at detecting fire, yet each has a unique detecting system. Each type of detector comes as AC-operated smoke detectors or battery-powered smoke detectors. Some AC detectors come with a battery back-up system.  Photoelectric detectors should be installed within 20 feet of a cooking appliance.

Are there other considerations when installing smoke detectors? 

Since there are many variables in the mounting of smoke detectors please call the Kalispell Building Department for additional information.

If you have any other questions please contact the Kalispell Building Department at (406) 758-7730 or email us at bldgdept@kalispell.com.

 

Photos courtesy of Digital Broadway LLC