Fire officials detail building inspection process

Fire officials detail building inspection process

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Buildings around the state are subject to scheduled and surprise safety inspections.

After the deadly warehouse fire in Oakland, California, we wanted to know what that inspection process looks like here.

Fire marshals say they look for overcrowding, clearly marked exits, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, sprinklers and other details.

"Make sure there's no accumulation of dust. Nobody's come in afterwards and painted the sprinkler heads by accident," Deputy Fire Marshal George Willis explained.

Columbia Fire Marshals took our reporter Meaghan Norman through Jake's Bar and Grill in Five Points on a thorough inspection.

"We do a 360 of the facility if that's practical. We walk around the facility. We check to see if the address is properly on the building," Fire Marshal George Adams said.

Fire officials said exits should be visible, properly lit, open in the flow of traffic and not blocked. There should be up-to-date fire extinguishers, alarms, and sprinklers, if necessary.

"It's required to have a fire alarm system if capacity exceeds 300. They're required to have sprinkler system is the capacity exceeds 100," Adams said.

That requirement is for new buildings. There are buildings that do not meet the current code and don't have to.

"If it's under that threshold they're not required to have either sprinkler system or fire alarm system," Adams said.

Jon Sears, co-owner of Jake's, has a sprinkler system and alarms.

"I definitely feel much better prepared for something like that than it sounds like they had in Oakland," Sears said. "We have a fire plan. We're fortunate to have a bunch of different exits."

Sears has seen fire marshals do both surprise and scheduled inspections.

"If you're a few people over or something like that, they're generally going to work with you. If you're grossly over, it's a dangerous situation and you gotta clear the people out," Sears explained.

Jake's Bar and Grill is up to code.

The buildings without alarms or sprinklers are required to have staff trained on evacuation procedures every year. If a building does have a violation, there are different consequences depending on the severity.

Currently, there is no way for you to check to see if a business has any violations but we brought it up to the Columbia fire chief and he said it is something the department may consider.

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