BUSINESS/FIRE PLANS FAQs
Q: Why does the fire department review my building plans?
A: The planning and permitting phase is arguably the most important phase of construction. It is important to “get things right” on paper and in accordance with codes before a building is built. It is cost and time prohibitive to build and re-build in order to comply with codes when a structure can be simply constructed from approved plans.
Q: Where does the fire department get their authority to review plans, issue permits, and inspect my buildings?
A: From Florida Statutes. State law requires that all building plans be reviewed for fire-related issues by a state certified fire inspector. State law also dictates that inspections of fire components can only be done by a state certified fire inspector. Issuing permits ensures this process occurs in a logical and cohesive order.
Q: My building is not new. Why does the fire department still require plans and/or inspections when new tenants move in?
A: Anytime the conditions on your property change, it is mandatory that the new conditions are reviewed against the most current adopted codes. The State of Florida has adopted the Florida Fire Prevention Code and the Florida Building Code as its’ governing documents for fire and building codes. Within these documents are rules on new construction, occupancy changes, tenant changes, remodels, and additions designed to protect life safety, the property itself, surrounding properties, and first responders.
Q: Can you tell me if a building or unit is suitable for my business?
A: Yes, before you sign a lease to move into a building or unit, a courtesy inspection can be conducted by a fire inspector. Call (239) 242-3264 to schedule.
Q: Do I need a fire permit when doing any kind of construction?
A: Yes, when construction is performed, it is most likely a fire permit is required. Site work, new building construction, remodeling, work involving firewalls, fire sprinklers, fire alarms, fire suppression, exhaust hoods and liquid propane (L.P.) tanks, and other construction work requires that fire codes are followed and necessitates a fire permit.
Q: Can you tell me what I need in order to obtain a permit?
A: Yes, we can tell you what forms are required and what information needs to be submitted to obtain a permit. We cannot tell you how to build your project or who to use as a contractor or architect/engineer. We can only review what is submitted to make sure it meets fire codes.
Q: Why do I need to follow fire codes?
A: The City of Cape Coral Fire Prevention and Protection Ordinance adopts the Florida Fire Prevention Code which consists of NFPA 1, Uniform Fire Code, and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. These codes are important to obtain and retain life safety in buildings to prevent and/or minimize the loss of life in a fire situation.
Q: Can my business move into this particular unit?
A: It depends. There are many factors that are used to determine if an occupancy is legally able to move into a certain unit with minimal cost and construction to the owner. Required firewalls between certain occupancies, along with fire sprinkler and fire alarm requirements, are generally the main issue and expense. For example, if a day care is moving into a unit next to a realtor’s office, the code for the firewall between the units is a 2-hour requirement in a non-sprinkled building. If the building is fire sprinkled, then the firewall requirements can be lessened by not more than 1-hour. This code and all other occupancy separation requirements can be found in NFPA 101-6, Classification of Occupancy and Hazard of Contents.
Q: What are the plans reviewers specifically looking for?
A: There are several “big-ticket” items that are crucial to life safety, building preservation, and protection of first responders. First and foremost is the ability for people to exit the building should a fire should occur, followed closely by extinguishment of the fire. Advance planning of egress, fire sprinkler, fire alarm, and building construction requirements provide for the most effective way to protect lives and the building. In addition, advance planning of fire department requirements, such as property access and fire hydrants, ensures quickest and safest response to your building.
Q: What happens after I get my permit issued?
A: Fire inspectors will perform all the required fire inspections. The number of inspections is dependent on the number and type of permits issued. A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) or Zoning Compliance (ZC) will not be issued until all inspections have been completed by all disciplines, not just fire. A business may not open before the CO and/or ZC is issued.