What We Look For

The most commons items we look at during an inspection. This is not a complete list.

  • Street address is visible from the street, the address numbers are a contrasting color from the building and are very easy to see.
  • Apartment numbers should be easy to see. If the doors are inside a stairwell, placement of apartment numbers on the outside of stairwell are needed as well.
  • If buildings have stairwells or hidden apartments around corners then there should be apartment numbers that are visible at the entrance to each stairwell or numbers with an arrow pointing the way. Watch out for vegetation, it grows fast and blocks the signs.
  • A 2A20BC or larger fire extinguisher is mounted within 50 feet of every unit’s front door. The apartment manager can also choose to put a 1A10BC fire extinguisher inside of each unit if they don’t want to put them outside. Fire extinguisher need to be inspected once a year by a certified fire extinguisher technician and tagged. A fire extinguisher is also required inside or within 75 feet of every laundry room. The fire code says 75 feet distance to each fire extinguisher but that measurement is travel distance from the inside back corner of each apartment, 50 feet is a good average from the front door and was approved by our Fire Marshal.
  • Dumpsters need to be at least 5 feet from the building if it is bigger than a 1 cubic yard container. No combustible construction is allowed over the dumpster if it was built after 1982 or it has a fire sprinkler system inside. Overhanging branches need to be removed.
  • Open fire lanes. Parking areas cannot be created in fire lanes. Fire lanes are 12 – 26 feet wide depending on the height of the building.
  • If charcoal is allowed, a metal can with a metal lid for disposal is required. Do not burying or throw charcoal into the dumpster. No charcoal is allowed on balconies unless there’s a sprinkler head outside in the balcony area. Meat Smokers are considered solid fuel since they use pellets/wood chips so these need to be 10 feet from the building, same as charcoal BBQ’s.
  • If your building has a local fire alarm only, signs are required over the manual pull stations “Local alarm only, call 911”. By the fire bell a sign is needed: “If bell is ringing, call 911”.
  • Fire sprinkler systems and all fire alarm systems must have an annual inspection done by a certified company. Provide annual service paperwork to the fire department.
  • If you have private hydrants you are required to do the annual service or hire a hydrant company and provide paperwork to the fire department. These hydrants are RED. Do not paint them yellow. Yellow hydrants are owned by the county or city and they will service them. Call your local water provider if you are not sure.
  • If you have a pool there must be a dedicated 911 pool phone. Make sure the 911 phone actually works each year before the pool is opened. Call 911 on the pool phone and let them know you are testing a pool phone and they will listen for it. Make sure the address matches the address posted by your pool phone. Landlines are the best choice for the pool phone. Cell phone batteries die quickly and are unreliable. If your pool or spa is open year round, then your 911 phone must work at all times. This is a Health Dept. requirement.
  • Smoke alarm placement is dependent on the year the apartment was built. There must be one in the hall outside of all bedrooms. Newer apartments, after 1987, are also required to have smoke alarms in every sleeping area. Check your alarms once a month and replace the battery if it doesn’t work or you hear chirping. Replace at 10 years or earlier if needed. The apartment manager is required by law to supply and replace smoke alarms. Tenants are required to replace batteries unless the apartment management elects to do so.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are required if you have once source of CO in your building. Place a CO alarm outside in the hallway within 15 feet of every sleeping area. It is recommended that you place a CO alarm inside of each sleeping area as well. Test and change the battery as you would a smoke alarm. The apartment manager is require to supply and replace carbon monoxide alarms. Tenants are required to replace batteries unless the apartment management elects to do so. After 2014, all apartments are required to have CO alarms regardless of whether there is a carbon monoxide source in the building.
  • Carbon monoxide sources include fireplace, woodstove, pellet stove, natural gas, propane, kerosene, coal or oil appliance, an attached garage that has a door into a living space.
  • If there is one gas water heater in the basement, then all apartments would be required by state law to have a carbon monoxide alarm inside their apartment. If there is a gas HVAC unit on the roof, then all apartments would be required by state law to have CO alarms. CO alarms are required on every level that has a sleeping area in multi-level apartments/townhomes.


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