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Commercial Inspections

The Fire Prevention Bureau conducts periodic fire inspections of commercial properties.  Fire Inspectors identify fire hazards and life safety issues of buildings throughout the city. Inspectors document discrepancies and educate business owners about the importance of complying with the code. Each business owner is granted a grace period to meet compliance before the Inspector returns for a re-inspection.

Inspection Schedule 
The Fire Prevention Bureau recognizes the inspection schedule as set forth in the International Fire Code. Listed below is the occupancy classifications and their inspection frequency.

One-Year Cycle:
Occupancy Type: Hazardous, Institutional, High-Rise, Assembly (except those noted below), and Residential.

Exceptions - Residential:  One and two family dwellings and only interior common areas of dwelling units of multi-family occupancies

Two-Year Cycle:
Occupancy Type: Industrial and Educational

Exceptions: Public Schools

Three-Year Cycle:
Occupancy Type: Assembly (occupancies with an occupant load less than 100), Business, Mercantile, Storage, Churches, and Synagogues.

Exceptions: City Ordinance dictates that all public and privately-owned buildings within the “Historical District” of downtown New Bern are scheduled on an annual basis.

Frequent Discrepancies

The Fire Prevention Bureau utilizes the International Fire Code (with North Carolina Amendments) as the primary reference guide for fire inspections. Listed below are some of the more frequent discrepancies.

Exit signs shall be internally or externally illuminated or shall be of the self-luminous type.

The required capacity of means of egress shall not be diminished (reduced) along the path of egress travel.

Manually operated flush bolts or surfaces bolts on exit doors are not permitted.

Fire Protection Systems
Fire extinguishers shall be in a conspicuous and readily available location.

Fire extinguishers shall not be obstructed or obscured from view.

Fire extinguishers shall be installed so that its top is not more than 5' above the floor if less than 40 pounds. For extinguishers over 40 pounds, the top no more than 3.5' above the floor.

Fire extinguishers shall be serviced annually and shall have a current service tag attached.

Automatic fire extinguishing systems of commercial cooking equipment shall be serviced at least every six months and after activation of the system. Maintain records.

Painted sprinkler heads or cover plates are prohibited unless painted at the factory. They cannot be cleaned of paint. They must be replaced.

Records of all system inspections, test and maintenance, shall be maintained on the premises for a minimum of one year. Show proof.

Storage of combustible materials in buildings shall be maintained in a neat, orderly manner.

Storage shall be maintained 2' or more below the ceiling in a non-sprinkled building, and 19" below sprinkler head deflectors in sprinkled areas of buildings.

Combustible materials shall not be stored in boiler rooms, mechanical rooms, or electrical rooms.

Attic, under-floor, and concealed spaces used for storage of combustible materials shall be protected on the storage side as required for one-hour fire resistive construction. NO STORAGE UNDER EXIT STAIRWAYS unless protected by an automatic sprinkler system.

Dumpsters and containers with an individual capactiy of 1.5 cubic yards (40.5 cubic feet) or larger shall not be stored in buildings or placed within 5' of combustible walls, openings, or under roof eave lines.

Extension cords shall not be a substitute for permanent wiring.

Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be affixed to structures, extended through walls, ceilings, or floors.

Extension cords shall not contain splices or damage.

Extension cords shall be grounded when serving grounded portable appliances.

A working space and clearance of not less than 30" in width, 36" in depth, and 78" in height shall be provided in front of electrical service equipment (panel).