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Fire Code Construction & Development Guide

Thank you for choosing to build in the City of La Porte. This guide was developed to assist you as you prepare construction plans for initial review by the La Porte Fire Marshal’s Office. This guide pertains only to the fire related construction requirements of the City of La Porte and does not address those of other departments within the City. The items addressed are documented in the following codes and publications: 2003 International Fire Code, Applicable National Fire Codes published by the National Fire Protection Association, 2000 Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), and Local Codes, Ordinances and Amendments as adopted by the City of La Porte.

In reviewing plans for new development, the two primary concerns of the Fire Marshal’s Office are Access and Water Supply for fire fighting and emergency medical purposes. These concerns are examined in detail when you submit an initial site plan for approval, and again when construction plans are reviewed prior to the issuance of a building permit.

The Fire Marshal’s Office reviews all commercial construction plans for fire code compliance. This will be done prior to a building permit being issued. The Fire Marshal’s Office will attempt to addresses the issues which normally occur during the construction phase. These items are checked utilizing the above-mentioned codes for reference. If different codes reference the same subject, the more stringent code shall apply.

Please prepare your plans with the knowledge that our ultimate goal is to ensure life safety. While every effort is made to be very thorough during the site and plan review processes, there is always a possibility that something may be overlooked. Should this occur, it does not remove the contractor from his responsibility to construct the building to the proper fire and life safety code. Problems may be noted during onsite inspections or at the final inspection for the Certificate of Occupancy. Compliance may be required prior to the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy. Therefore, if you feel some aspect of your project requires special attention, or you have specific questions, please bring this to our attention as soon as possible. We prefer to utilize the plan review process as a positive time to review important issues rather than trying to correct costly concerns at the end of the construction project.

We encourage pre-development consultations to discuss projects prior to the plans being completed. Please feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment or to ask any questions that you may have. You may contact any member of our office by mail or phone at the following location.

La Porte Fire Marshal’s Office
125 South 3rd Street
La Porte, Texas 77571
(281) 867-4603


This checklist refers to items that are critical to the site and plan review processes. By following the criteria for the Construction and Certificate of Occupancy sections in this guideline, you will be aware of what is expected from you as the builder. This list is not meant to be all-inclusive as special needs and considerations do arise. The following information was developed to help with the more common needs and occupancies. Also, items within this checklist may not apply to your specific development. As the architect, developer or contractor, you should be versed in applicable codes; however, a member of the La Porte Fire Marshal’s Office will be happy to assist you with any needs or questions you may have.


Site Review


  • Reviews the Fire Department’s ability to access the property, including driveway widths and any turn radius for dead end streets.
  • Reviews the need for fire hydrants.
  • Reviews the need for fire lanes that will allow access from the roadway to and around the structure.
  • Site plans should be approved before Plans Review submittal.

Plan Review

  • The Fire Marshal’s Office will examine your construction plans to ensure fire related issues discussed during the site review were addressed/corrected.
  • Examine the construction plans for any fire protection needs such as:

    • Automatic Sprinkler System (Separate Plan submittal required and permit)
    • Fire Alarm System (Separate Plan submittal required and permit)
    • Kitchen Vent-A-Hood Fire Extinguishing System (Separate Plan submittal and permit)
    • Fire Extinguishers
  • Fire Hydrants should be indicated showing their location and distance from the proposed structure. Any existing and proposed water mains (including the main sizes) should be documented.
  • Fire Lanes shall be marked in accordance with City specifications.
  • Building permits are issued by the City of La Porte Building Department. This is done following a complete plans review by all Departments.

Construction


Access and Addresses

  • A hard surface access to the construction site shall be provided prior to the beginning of any phase of combustible building construction on the project.
  • Construction location shall be properly addressed during construction with a current set of construction plans on site at all times.
  • The owner or his designee shall provide the Fire Marshal’s Office with emergency phone numbers prior to site construction.
  • Upon completion of the project, the address shall be placed in a position to be plainly legible and visible from the street or road fronting the property, so as to be easily seen by personnel in the event of an emergency.

    • Numbers shall be of contrasting color (from the structure) and visible from the roadway.
    • Address numbers shall be Arabic numerals or alphabet letters.
    • Numbers shall be a minimum of 4 inches (102 mm) high with a minimum stroke width of 0.5 inch (12.7 mm).

Fire Hydrants

  • Locations of fire hydrant(s) shall be approved by both the Fire Marshal’s Office and City Engineering Division.
  • Fire hydrants shall be installed at such locations that no part of any commercial structure shall be more than 300 feet from a fire hydrant. This measurement is calculated as the distance along the right-of-way of a public street as the fire hose is laid off the fire truck.
  • A 3-foot (914 mm) clear space shall be maintained around the circumference of fire hydrants except as otherwise required or approved.
  • Proper grading and elevation around fire hydrants must be provided at the time of final inspection.
  • Vegetation and landscaping shall be placed in a manner as not to obstruct or impede a fire hydrant from either view or use.


Fire Lanes and Turnarounds

  • All fire lanes are to be marked in accordance with City specifications.
  • The minimum access roadway width of 20 feet and clearance height of 13 feet, 6 inches shall be provided on any designated fire lane.
  • Turning radius requirements shall be designed per 2003 International Fire Code and approved by the Fire Marshal’s Office.


Fire Extinguishers

  • Fire extinguisher requirement may change with occupancy/hazard classification.
  • A 5-pound minimum 2A-20BC rating is required. As a general rule, there should be 1 fire extinguisher for every 1,500 square feet of floor. In most occupancy, fire extinguishers should be placed so that the user should have to travel no more than 50 feet of travel to any unit. This distance may be increased to 75 feet if the building is protected by a fire sprinkler system.
  • All fire extinguishers are to be mounted in a visible and accessible location that is located in the path of egress when possible.
  • Fire extinguishers are to be mounted no closer than 4 inches to the finished floor and no higher than 5 feet above the finished floor to the top of the unit.
  • All fire extinguishers are required to have a current inspection tag in place showing “who” performed the inspection and “when” the inspection was performed. Inspections are to be performed by a licensed company whose tag clearly indicates their State FL number.


Fire Protection Equipment

  • All fire protection systems shall meet the applicable NFPA standard referenced in the International Codes.
  • A permit is required prior to the construction/installation of any and all fire protection equipment.
  • Plans are to be submitted to the Fire Marshal’s Office for approval prior to the issue of any permit for fire protection equipment.
  • A copy of both the designer and installer’s license shall be on file in the Fire Marshal’s Office prior to the issue of an installation permit.
  • An acceptance test is required on all fire protection equipment prior to the issue of a Certificate of Occupancy for the building.
  • All fire protection equipment shall have a current inspector’s tag at all times.


Automatic Fire Sprinklers

  • All fire sprinkler systems shall meet the criteria of the 2003 International Fire Code, and all applicable provisions of NFPA 13, 13R, and 13D.
  • Plan submittal with required approval and permits must be secured through the City of La Porte Building Inspection Department.
  • All system inspections and test should be scheduled through the Fire Marshal’s Office.
  • Please allow 24 hours notice for final inspections.
  • When submitting plans, the plans should include the following:

    • A designer or engineer’s seal on the plans
    • Piping locations
    • Pipe sizes
    • Hanger details and locations
    • Sprinkler head details and locations, showing walls and any other obstructions.
    • Riser specifications including valves, gauges, and Fire Marshal’s Office connection.
    • Hydraulic calculations
    • Building classifications and construction type
  • Sprinkler plans are not required to be submitted simultaneously with the building plans. However, the plans must be submitted and approved prior to the start of sprinkler construction.
  • The Fire Department Connection (FDC) shall be located no more than 100 feet from a fire hydrant and remain unobstructed at all times.

    • The location of the FDC shall be approved.
    • The FD hose connection shall be 5 inch Storz with 30 degree angle.
    • A minimum of 3 feet of clear space shall be maintained around the FDC at all times.
    • A metal sign with raised letters at least 1 inch (25 mm) in size shall be mounted on all FDC’s.
  • The fire sprinkler system functional test is to be witnessed by a member of the La Porte Fire Marshal’s Office and monitored prior to any inventory being stored inside the building.

    • Newly installed systems require a 2-hour, 200-psi hydrostatic test.
    • The hydrostatic acceptance test shall be witnessed and approved by a member of the City of La Porte Fire Marshal’s Office.
    • Sprinkler piping and hangers shall not be covered and/or concealed by any means prior to being inspected and approved by a member of the Fire Marshal’s Office. This includes drop grid ceiling tiles.
    • The underground water supply line to the sprinkler riser shall be hydrostatic tested with results provided to the Fire Marshal’s Office before the system is approved. This test is not witnessed by the Fire Marshal’s Office, but is inspected by an official from the Building Inspection Department.
  • Modifications to an existing system require a hydraulic recalculation when more than 10 heads are added to an existing system. A copy of the calculations are to be provided to the Fire Marshal’s Office.
  • All sprinkler systems are to be supervised as specified by Code.

    • The alarm shall detect any changes to the water flow and tamper switches on the system.
    • All alarm systems shall be approved and tested prior to approval to ensure complete and proper operation.
    • Verification of alarm connection to an alarm company shall be submitted in writing by a representative of the alarm company to the Fire Marshal’s Office.
    • Alarm companies must meet current NFPA 72 Standards.
    • Any building protected by a sprinkler system shall have a UL approved electric or hydraulic warning device (a bell or a horn) installed on the outside of the structure to proximate the FDC.
  • Sprinkler heads are to be free of any foreign material, properly spaced and unobstructed. All concealed spaces are to be properly protected.
  • No storage permitted closer than 18 inches from the bottom plane of sprinkler heads.
  • All sprinkler valves, test drains, shutoff, etc. are required to be labeled in accordance with NFPA guidelines.
  • The fire sprinkler control valves shall be secured by one of the following methods.

    • Chain and padlock
    • Locked inside a room that is designated and identified on the door accordingly
    • Locked inside a cage or other approved area that can be adequately secured and supervised.
  • The underground portion of the system falls under the jurisdiction of the building department and any required permits or inspections must be obtained from them.


Fire Alarms

  • All fire alarm systems shall meet the criteria of the 2003 International Building Code, International Fire Code and all applicable provisions of NFPA and the Life Safety Code.
  • Plan submittal with required approval and permits must be secured through the City of La Porte Building Inspection Department.
  • All system inspections and tests should be scheduled through the Fire Marshal’s Office.
  • Please allow 24 hours notice before testing.
  • Upon completion of the system, the Fire Marshal’s Office is to be provided with a signed, legible copy of the installation/inspection certificate.
  • Two sets of drawings are required when submitted for approval. One copy will be returned to you with notations and approval. The plans submitted should include the following:

    • Designer seal on plans
    • A copy of the Texas Fire Alarm license for both the designer and installer must be on file in the Fire Marshal’s Office before permits are approved.
    • Specifications and UL listing of all components to be installed
    • Battery back-up calculations for system
    • Where 10 or more devices are attached to a single zone, voltage drop calculations should be included.
    • All fire alarm systems and zones are to be properly labeled in accordance with NFPA 72.
    • Power supply for fire alarm system shall be a dedicated and marked circuit.
    • A zone map is required, indicating the location of devices and wire.
    • All alarm systems shall be inspected and test prior to approval to ensure complete and proper operation.
  • Where the fire alarm is required to be monitored, it shall meet the following criteria:

    • Verification of alarm connection to an alarm company shall be submitted in writing by a representative of the alarm company to the Fire Marshal.
    • Alarm companies must meet current NFPA 72 Standards.

Kitchen Fire Extinguishing Systems

Any extinguishing system designed to provide protection for a cooking area is reviewed by the Building Inspection Department. Systems shall be designed in accordance with the appropriate NFPA standard, the 2003 International Building, Fire Codes and any applicable ordinances.

  • System inspections and tests should be scheduled through the Fire Marshal’s Office. Please allow 48 hours notice before testing.
  • Upon completion of the system, the Fire Marshal’s Office is to be provided with a signed, legible copy of the installation/inspection certificate.
  • Exhaust ducts are to be protected by a 2-hour fire rated enclosure. Fire-rated “wraps” are not allowed as a stand-alone means of protection.

    • Exhaust ducts with angles greater than 70 degrees are required to have a clean-out access door.
    • All exhaust ducts are required to be seamless (crimped edges, screws, spot welding, etc. are not permitted).
  • Kitchen hood fire extinguishing systems must meet the current state guidelines for fire protection (currently UL300) during any of the following:

    • New construction
    • Remodel construction that involves the kitchen area
    • Any modification to an existing fire extinguishing system
    • Any change of a cooking appliance (unless replacement is an exact duplication)
    • Following any incident on the property where a fire occurred
  • An acceptance test is required upon completion and before a final Certificate of Occupancy is issued. The system will be tested for, but not limited to:

    • A “blow-down” test of the extinguisher agent nozzles
    • All power appliances (gas, electrical, etc.) is to automatically shut down during system activation
    • Automatic activation of system upon separation of fusible links
    • Proper ventilation and damper control