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 Fire Prevention Inspections

The Berkeley Fire Department conducts annual inspections of multiple residential occupancies of 3 or more units, commercial properties, or homes in the hazardous fire areas.  Properties also subject to annual fire inspections are vacant lots, under construction lots, and parking lots. The goal of these inspections is to decrease the number and severity of fires. Residential and business inspections take place throughout the year; inspections of hazardous fire areas are scheduled on a fiscal year. From July 1 to June 30. Re-inspections, if necessary, are conducted 30-60 days after the initial inspection.

Most of these inspections are conducted by engine and truck company firefighters. Fire inspectors conduct inspections of schools, hospitals, and other State mandated inspections, including inspections referred by engine and truck companies.

The cost of a residential and business fire inspection is $98.00 per quarter hour. Inspections are normally invoiced within 30 days. There is no charge for inspections in the hazardous fire areas. If payment is not received within 60 days of the invoice date a 20% penalty will be added.

The firefighters make routine inspections of all public spaces, which include areas like hallways, exit balconies, assembly rooms, utility and laundry rooms and garages. Unless requested by an owner, annual inspections are routine and normally do not require appointments, unless there are special hazards and/or the building is very large, which requires the assistance of a building engineer to complete the inspection.

Below is a list of some of the fire code safety violations firefighters look for during an annual inspection. You can use this list as a guide to assist you in identifying and correcting potential fire and life safety hazards in your building. For more information, call Fire Prevention at 981-5585.


  • Remove obstructions from exits, aisles, corridors, and fire escapes
  • Repair and maintain lighting for corridors, stairways and exits
  • Maintain emergency power equipment for exit lighting and signs
  • Provide approved exit signs at every required exit


  • Discontinue use of extension codes in lieu of permanent wiring
  • Repair openings in fire resistive constructions (walls, ceilings, unsealed chases)
  • Clearance of 30”+ in front of electrical panels


  • Mount where readily available with top no higher than 5’
  • Post signs indicating location, if not readily available
  • Service and tag annually and after each use
  • Minimum 2A rating (travel distance not to exceed 75’)


  • Approved container for storage of combustible rubbish or waste material
  • Storage 2’ or more below ceilings in non-sprinkled areas; 18” within sprinklers
  • Remove storage underneath exit stairs and combustibles from exits
  • Remove combustible storage from mechanical or electrical equipment rooms or boiler rooms
  • Remove storage of dumpsters or containers in buildings or within 5’ of combustible walls, openings or roof eave lines
  • Remove combustibles and/or hazardous materials from vacant buildings and properties


  • Remove accumulations of weeds, grass, vines, or other vegetation
  • Remove storage of combustible materials less than 10’ from property line

Hotels, Motels, Apartments

  • Provide and install smoke detectors in sleeping rooms, common areas, and adjacent to sleeping areas
  • Provide an approved fire alarm system in apartment buildings 3+ stories high or 16+ units, in hotels 3+ stories high or 20+ guest rooms, and in congregate residences of 20+ persons
  • Repair openings in fire resistive construction
  • Maintain all fire assemblies (i.e. fire doors, windows, dampers) in good working condition
  • Provide stairway separation doors where required (1-3/4” solid wood core, with approved self-closer and latch)

Alarm Systems

  • Maintain in operable condition and test monthly
  • When a manual and automatic fire alarm system is required, plans must be submitted to the Fire Department and a permit issued before installation


  • Inspect and test monthly
  • Service by a State licensed contractor every five years
  • Secure valves in the open position with an approved break-away locking device
  • Provide approved protective covers for Fire Department connections and intakes

Occupancy Load and Address

  • Post occupant load sign near main exit in assembly rooms of 50+
  • Provide approved numbers or addresses on all new and existing buildings
  • Fire Department permit needed for operation of places of assembly (50+ or more)

Flammable Liquids

  • Remove flammable liquid near exits and stairways        
  • Provide approved storage cabinet for storage of flammable liquids
  • Discontinue use of Class IA liquids (flashpoint below 73 degrees Fahrenheit) for cleaning
  • Discontinue sales of Class I and II liquids for domestic cleaning
  • Fire Department permit needed to store, handle or use flammable liquids in excess of permitted amounts

Hazardous Materials

  • Place hazard identification signs at entrances to locations where hazardous materials are stored.
  • Conspicuously mark individual containers, cartons or packages
  • Fire Department permit needed to store, dispense, use or handle hazardous materials in excess of quantities specified in Section 105, Permit h.1

Hazardous Hills Fire Area

  • Clear weeds and all dead plant material on parcels from property line to property line. Trees, ornamental shrubbery or green plants used as ground cover need not be removed
  • Remove combustibles, leaves and pine needles from roof
  • Remove any portion of a tree within 10’ of the chimney outlet
  • Remove combustible grass and weeds within 10’ of roadway
  • Provide a spark arrester of heavy wire mesh with openings not exceeding ½” on each chimney
  • Remove limbs 1/3 the tree’s height from the ground and remove all vines from tree trunks

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Fire Department, 2100 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-3473
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903