Effective January 1, 2003, a Fire Code Permit shall be required for a variety of activities and businesses, including land clearing, assembly and education occupancies; and the use, storage and handling of certain hazardous materials. These requirements are regulated under the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code and the Code of Virginia.
The following information is provided to assist you in determining if you need a Fire Code Permit for your business and how to obtain one.
Who is required to have a Fire Code Permit?
Any business that uses, stores, or manufactures regulated amounts of the hazardous materials or hazardous processes or a business use as identified in Table 1 may require a permit. A business with small amounts of hazardous materials as outlined under the Fire Prevention Code will be exempt.
How do I obtain a Fire Code Permit?
Your Fire Code Permit will be issued after your routine annual fire inspection is completed and your facility is in compliance with all regulations as identified above. If you would like to obtain a permit prior to your annual inspection a preliminary application can be obtained by calling the Virginia Beach Fire Marshal's Office, see Contact Information below.
An application can also be obtained in PDF format by clicking under the Related Content section on this page. The form can be downloaded, printed, then faxed, mailed or delivered to the Fire Marshals Office. Please be sure to sign the application before submitting.
How much does a Fire Code Permit Cost?
When does a permit expire?
- Most permits are good for one year and are renewed annually. Some permits such as: land clearing, fireworks or bonfire permits are issued for a limited time or a single event. When an annual permit is issued, the Fire Marshal's Office will conduct an annual inspection of the business to ensure conditions of the permit are met.
What conditions must a business comply with to be issued a permit?
In order for a Fire Code Permit to be issued, the business must comply with the standards set forth under the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code and other referenced codes and standards. These include requirements under the Building Code, Electrical Code and other nationally recognized safety standards.
The amount and location of hazardous material must not exceed allowable amounts. These amounts are specified in the Fire Prevention Code in each chapter dealing with the specific type of hazardous material.
- Fire protection equipment such as portable fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, fire pumps, fire alarms and other safety equipment must be in good working order. In addition, all current test records for this equipment must be kept on site and available for review by the Inspector.
- Electrical equipment must be installed and maintained in accordance with NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code).
- Fire exits must be properly marked and maintained.
- Emergency lights and emergency generators must be tested regularly to ensure proper operation.
- Tanks used for flammable / combustible liquid or hazardous materials must be properly marked and labeled. Buildings used to store large amounts of hazardous or flammable material must be placarded with an approved NFPA 704 placard. An approved repository box must be installed on site. The repository box is used to store vital emergency information including Material Safety Data Sheets for chemicals on site and emergency contact information. An approved repository box is master keyed to allow access by responding Virginia Beach Fire Department personnel only.
- A permit from the Fire Marshal's Office is required to install above ground storage tanks. The Building Official regulates underground tank installations.
- A permit is not transferable and any change in ownership, use, or occupancy of premises shall require a new permit.
- Permits must be prominently displayed on the premises or immediately available for inspection.
Additional items may apply to your business, depending on the type of permit required. Questions regarding the technical requirements of the Fire Code Permit should be addressed to the Fire Marshal's Office (757) 385-4228.
Why are Fire Code Permits required?
The Fire Code provides a set of nationally recognized safety standards to ensure the safety of employees, business owners and the public. Due to their nature, hazardous materials, flammable and combustible liquids, explosives, compressed gases and other materials must be stored and handled in accordance with nationally recognized practices to reduce the risk to life and property.
Permitting will occur in businesses that pose unique dangers to occupants and property such as places of assembly and educational facilities as well as those identified above. Permitting in conjunction with annual fire inspections will ensure that fire and life safety features are maintained to facilitate the safe and expedient evacuation of occupants in the event of an emergency.