At a Glance
A person working within the Fire Marshal’s Office is no longer someone who just attempts to prevent fires. What was once made up of former firefighters who provided only fire prevention inspections in the city’s business areas has now become a complex division, which provides many aspects of emergency and non-emergency services. To meet today’s standards our personnel must be trained in many fields and must be proficient in many areas of technical expertise and customer service.
Over the years we have become responsible for providing more diverse services. These different levels of service were dictated by the rapid growth in our business community and the cost-effective use of limited city resources.
A few of the public safety services provided are:
- Fire Prevention Periodic Inspections
- Fire Code Enforcement
- Fire/Arson Investigations
- Hazardous Materials Management
- Fire & Life Safety Public Education
- New Construction Inspections
- Site Development and Public Fire Safety Planning
- Training for Pre-Incident Response
- Incident Safety Officer Personnel
These duties are provided within four sub-sections. These include Administration, Fire Inspections, New Construction, and Fire/Arson Investigations.
The Fire Marshal provides the day to day supervision of the department’s personnel. He is responsible for administering the programs assigned to this division, including the implementation, administration and enforcement of the locally adopted ordinances, State Laws and Fire Codes. Requirements that are essential for the public safety of an existing or proposed activity, building or structure, or for the safety of the occupants, which are not specifically provided for by the fire code are determined by the Fire Marshal or his designee. He is also delegated with the authority to render interpretations of the City Fire Protection Ordinance, and to adopt policies, procedures, rules and regulations in order to clarify application of applicable codes. His office is located at Fire Station 1, 1200 Rudel Rd, Tomball.
This section is supervised by the Assistant Fire Marshal. Our jurisdiction is geographically divided into six inspection districts to allow for a systemic inspection process. Each district has an average of 200 commercial occupancies. These occupancies include locally owned businesses, multi-story occupancies and one-two family apartments. Tomball has one of the largest light industrial and medical districts in the area. Some notable businesses include Baker Hughes, Lone Star College-Tomball, and Tomball Regional Medical Center – a 10 story hospital.
Inspections are also conducted for Certificates of Occupancy for altered existing structures, new construction, or those buildings with new occupants. Confidence or acceptance testing of fire protection and life safety systems are also managed under this section. Operational fire prevention permits for various regulated activities are issued by the section.
Compliance is achieved through the utilization of adopted codes, standards, and ordinances of the City of Tomball, NFPA National Fire Codes, and the International Fire Code. As a part of our local ordinance, each structure is inspected and any hazards found are listed for the owner / occupant to be corrected. Also, the enforcement of the fire code allows for identification of unsafe property such as open, vacant structures, which are a danger to the community and firefighters. Several items, which are of primary importance to life safety, are fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, means of egress, and other fire extinguishing systems.
It is said that “fire fighting begins with plan review”. Ensuring that buildings are constructed properly; that it has adequate egress and proper fire separations is a vital part to maintaining a tenable environment for survival; for not only the tenant, but for the firefighters too. The Fire Marshal’s Office reviews plans for all new and major remodels of commercial buildings beginning with civil site plans. We also perform plan review for the installation of automatic fire detection and fire suppression systems in accordance to local and nationally recognized standards.
Fire Investigators working for the Fire Marshal’s Office are certified through the Texas Commission on Fire Protection as Fire Investigators. This allows them to investigate fires determined to be arson in accordance with Texas Penal Code 28.02 (Crimes against Property). On average, we conduct 13 fire investigations a year.