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What is a Fire Safety Inspection?
The primary purposes of the Oakland Fire Department (OFD) as related to prevention and risk mitigation are to reduce the risks of fire and other types of emergencies in the community. The Oakland Municipal Code, the California Fire Code, the California Health and Safety Code, and the California Building Code Standards establish minimum regulatory fire and life safety requirements for the installation and maintenance of buildings, equipment, and activities throughout the City of Oakland.
The Fire Prevention Bureau (FPB), a branch of the Oakland Fire Department, oversees inspection services related to compliance with the aforementioned municipal, state, and federal fire codes and standards. The three types of inspection services provided by OFD are: Fire Code, Commercial, and Vegetation Management. Hazardous materials inspection services are no longer provided by OFD. OFD is no longer the Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) for the City of Oakland. The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) has designated the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health (ACDEH) as the CUPA for the City of Oakland. All CUPA Programs within the City of Oakland that were previously under the jurisdiction of the City of Oakland have been transferred to ACDEH. If you have any questions regarding hazardous materials inspections, please contact ACDEH at (510) 567-6702.
The FPB Inspectors and OFD Operations personnel conduct field inspections to determine compliance with all applicable codes and standards by developing and maintaining long standing relationships with business owners, community agencies, and residents in an effort to reduce risks of fire and other emergencies, while increasing fire prevention and safety awareness throughout Oakland communities.
Fire Code Inspections
This unit is comprised of inspectors with specialized knowledge in the CA Fire Code and supports the development and building permit process, as well as determining compliance for existing buildings and occupancies throughout Oakland. Through field inspections, this group determines compliance with applicable codes and standards and works closely with owners and/or occupants to monitor on-going maintenance and compliance. Inspection types include new construction, care facilities, institutions, jails, high-rise business and residential buildings, places of worship, mid-rise residential buildings, special events/activities, and inspections in response to citizen complaints. Fire Code inspections are generally scheduled by contractors performing work on buildings, owners and/or tenants seeking to modify building or tenant spaces, citizens concerned with fire safety, and FPB inspectors conducting annual obligatory inspections.
The Commercial Inspection Program coordinates inspections of commercial facilities and multi-family residences (apartments, hotels, motels, etc.). Field inspections are managed and directed by the Fire Prevention Bureau. These inspections are conducted by the members of the OFD Operations Division, on a block-by-block basis, with the intent to inspect commercial & residential properties as it pertains to the code and ordinance; provide fire and other life safety hazards education to business owners/occupants; and conduct pre-fire planning for future emergency response. The only properties exempt from said inspections are single-family dwellings and duplex buildings.
Commercial inspections are conducted as time permits during a fire station’s 24-hour shift and are not routinely scheduled on an appointment basis. As a general rule, if an inspection was conducted last year (i.e. 2015), business owners/occupants should anticipate an inspection approximately two years later (2017 for example). The Commercial Inspections Program provides fire safety personnel an opportunity to meet business owners/occupants of the community which they serve. It is our goal to provide you excellent service by identifying those activities, processes, or construction flaws which can lead to unwanted fires, and other types of accidents or emergencies.
This unit works together with the members of the OFD Operations Division annually, who approach inspections on a block-by-block basis, with the intent of inspecting approximately 26,000 properties for compliance with the CA Fire Code relative to vegetation management in the high-fire area of the Oakland hills. While upon first inspection the compliance rate is less than 50%, the program achieves an annual average compliance rate of 95% upon second inspection, and thereafter maintains a 98% compliance rate throughout the high-fire season. This unit also works very closely with the Wildfire Prevention Assessment District (WPAD) Advisory Board. Together FPB staff and the WPAD members promote fire safety and prevention in the hills area in an effort to prevent another disaster such as the one which occurred in 1991.