Fire and Life Safety

The Fire and Life Safety Division (FLS) is a dynamic division within the fire district providing a number of community related services. The Division is supervised by the Fire Marshal who administrates the division’s activities through two fire inspectors, a plans examiner and clerical staff. All members of the FLS Division maintain a number of memberships in professional organizations affiliated with fire and life safety.

The division provides technical support, public safety information, and conducts routine fire inspections to assure compliance with adopted fire codes. All commercial occupancies and businesses such as mercantile, restaurants, nursing homes, gas stations and other commercial occupancies are inspected annually. Inspections conducted by the FLS Division include: automatic fire sprinkler systems, fire pumps, fire alarm systems, hazardous material storage configurations, commercial kitchen hood systems, fireworks displays, tents and others. These inspections are conducted by certified fire inspectors assigned to the FLS division. Their qualifications include certification in the International Fire Codes and national fire code standards up to the latest edition. Records of all inspections are maintained by FLS.

Along with fire code inspections, planning and development services are also provided. The Fire Marshal is also the Town of Oro Valley (TOV) Fire Marshal through an IGA. GRFD works closely with the Pima and Pinal County Building Departments as well, as the fire district boundaries cross a county line and encumber rural unincorporated areas. Issues relating to fire codes are addressed at many levels of planning and development. A code enforcement and construction plan review inspector is available for fire code consultations, formal construction plan review and on-site building evaluations. The plan reviewer is nationally recognized as an engineer-in-training. All projects within the fire district are required to be formally reviewed for fire code compliance. This includes all new construction, tenant improvements, hazardous operations, installation or modification of fire protection systems and special events.

Water is the main agent utilized by the fire service when attempting to extinguish a fire. Therefore it is imperative that the water supply systems throughout the fire district are evaluated, updated and maintained in order to perform as required by the adopted fire codes. A fire inspector is assigned to the task of cooperatively working with all water purveyors in developing strategies for improving water supplies, maintaining fire flow requirements and ensuring that fire hydrants are in proper working order. The fire district is evaluated on a regular basis by the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) and the water supply is analyzed as part of the rating. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the best, GRFD is currently rated at Class 3 of which only 2% of all fire departments in the country have achieved. This excellent rating is in large part due to a reliable water supply being available for fire fighting.

The International Code Council is a member-focused association dedicated to helping the building safety community and construction industry to provide safe, sustainable and affordable construction through the development of codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process. Most U.S. communities and many global markets choose the International Codes. The International Codes, or I-Codes, published by ICC, provide minimum safeguards for people at home, at school and in the workplace. I-Codes are a complete set of comprehensive, coordinated building safety and fire prevention codes. The latest edition of the International Fire Code (IFC) has been researched, amended and adopted by the Governing Board of GRFD. This is completed with the approval of the State Fire Marshal’s office as required by Arizona Revised Statutes. The IFC as adopted by the fire district is the law by which all buildings are constructed and maintained. The State Fire Marshal is responsible for the enforcement, amendment, and development of all codes presented to the Governing Board for adoption.

In support of the fire codes, the National Fire Protection Association publishes a set of referenced fire code standards. NFPA develops, publishes, and disseminates more than 300 consensus codes and standards intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire and other risks. Virtually every building, process, service, design, and installation in society today is affected by NFPA documents. Many of these standards are adopted as referenced within the IFC.

A fee schedule has been adopted by the Governing Board for services relating to all prevention activities. Permits are required for all hazardous operations, construction activities, and special events.

In the event of fire, explosion or other emergency the FLS Division is responsible for the investigation of all fires and hazardous incidents. It is their charge to determine the origin and cause of the fire and assist the county attorneys in the prosecution of arson related crimes. Complete documentation of all fire scenes is maintained by FLS. All FLS Fire Investigators are affiliated with the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), the National Association of Fire Investigators (NAFI), the Southern Arizona Arson and Explosion Task Force, and work in conjunction with the county attorney’s offices and local law enforcement agencies. The Fire Marshal is certified as a Fire and Explosion Investigator. Fire investigators are certified as Fire Investigation Technicians (FIT) and have received training in post blast investigative analysis having one inspector as a Certified Post Blast Investigator. All investigators complete regularly scheduled training activities and conduct investigations in accordance with nationally recognized standards. FLS members offer training courses in initial response, scene preservation and advanced fire investigation. Courses have been presented to local, state and federal level investigators. Investigations are also conducted in order to determine if product liability was a factor and work closely with the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) in determining if consumer products should be recalled.

As GRFD is considered to be in an urban/wild land interface area, the FLS Division works closely with other agencies including the Arizona State Forester and the United States Forest Service (USFS) in determining the levels of risk posed by the interface. A wild land urban-interface fire code is available through the ICC for assisting with determining the threat assessments posed by wildfires. Mitigation efforts are conducted throughout the year by FLS. Open burning permits are also available to property owners as a way to maintain a level of protection against wildfire. Permits are regulated by counties, Pima or Pinal if within the boundaries of the fire District and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). To learn more about Firewise concepts, follow this link. Click here and here for more information regarding recent wildfire activity. Lastly, follow these links to Pima and Pinal Counties for up to date information on fire restrictions.

The FLS Division also responds to citizens’ complaints concerning fire and life safety hazards. Educational awareness programs are presented to homeowners, homeowner associations, commercial enterprises and other civic groups. Fire extinguisher demonstrations are also offered. For more information please call Fire and Life Safety Division at 520-818-1017.

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