The Fire Marshal enforces the Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) on behalf of the Fairfax County Building Official (DPWES) and state and county fire prevention codes. Inspectors witness code-mandated acceptance tests and annual re-tests of all fire protection systems (i.e. sprinklers, fire alarms, smoke detectors) in buildings under construction or renovation as well as means of egress special locking arrangements. The services provided on behalf of DPWES include plans review, processing, and issuing related construction permits, conducting inspections and witnessed acceptance testing, and granting final approval.
ACCEPTANCE INSPECTIONS & TESTS
There are two categories of acceptance inspections/tests that may be scheduled with the Acceptance Testing Unit of the Fire Protection Systems Branch:
- Visual Inspection/Test
- 2-Hour Inspection/Test
A visual inspection/test, also known as a visual test or visual, is an inspection or test that can be conducted by one inspector within a 15 to 30 minute time period.
The following is a partial list of inspections or tests that may be scheduled for a visual inspection/test:
- Underground Fire Line Visual Inspection
- Underground Fire Line Flush Inspection
- Fire Pump Settings Visual Inspection
- NFPA 13D Sprinkler System Hydrostatic Test
- NFPA 13D Sprinkler System Water Supply Tie-in Inspection
- Sprinkler Visual Final Inspection (Individual Dwelling/Tenant Spaces Only) *
- Sprinkler Visual Test (Flow Switch/Tamper Tie-in Only)
- Special Locking Arrangement Inspection/Test (1 Locking Device Only)
- Standpipe Flush Inspection (Each Riser)
- Dry Pipe Trip Test (1 System Only)
- Fire Alarm Test (Audio-Visual Indicating Devices Only)
- Fire Alarm Test (1-2 Initiating Devices Only)
- Central Station Test
- Main Drain Test
* Sprinkler visual final inspections may require more time (multiple visual inspections/tests) depending on the size of the area to be inspected.
Scheduling a Visual Inspection/Test. Visual inspections/tests are scheduled in 15 minute time slots. When you call to request a visual inspection/test time slot, only the date will be scheduled. The business day preceding the scheduled inspection, the Fire Protection Systems Branch will confirm with the designated point of contact via telephone and give a 2-hour time frame for the inspection/test (e.g., 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.). Your representative must remain at the requested inspection location for the entire 2-hour time frame to meet the inspector.
A 2-hour test, also known as a full test time slot, can be one of three designated 2-hour time periods scheduled Monday through Friday as follows:
- 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. (Morning)
- 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. (Mid-morning)
- 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Afternoon)
Note: With proper notice and coordination, provided fire marshal staffing is available, earlier or expanded time periods may be scheduled. Earlier time periods may include a 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. inspection/test (Early-morning). Expanded time periods may be arranged for inspections and testing requiring multiple inspectors for greater than 2-hour time periods (Multiple 2-hour inspections/tests). After-hours and weekend inspection and testing services are not routinely available at this time. Call 703-246-4821 for additional information.
The following is a partial list of inspections or tests that may be scheduled for a 2-hour inspection/test:
- 2-Hour Hydrostatic Test (Except NFPA 13D Systems)
- Sprinkler Visual Final Inspection (Building Shell)
- Fire Alarm System Test
- Special Locking Arrangement Inspection/Test (Multiple Locking Devices)
- Fire Suppression System Trip Tests (Multiple Systems)
- Clean Agent Suppression System Test
- Preaction Sprinkler System Inspection/Test
There are too many combinations of the above 2-hour inspections/tests to list separately. When scheduling for inspections or tests, it is important for contractors to communicate his/her exact needs so sufficient time can be allotted for each inspection/test.
Scheduling a 2-Hour Inspection/Test. 2-hour inspections/tests are scheduled according to the type of inspection/test requested. Typically, one sprinkler system hydrostatic test or a small fire alarm system test can be performed in a single 2-hour inspection/test period. However, more complex systems may require multiple 2-hour inspections/tests. For example, a new high-rise building fire alarm system may require as many as 8 to 10 days (24-30 2-hour inspections/tests) to inspect and test; whereas, a warehouse building may only require one 2-hour inspection/test period. Generally, with the exception of a 2-hour hydrostatic inspection/test, 2 or more inspectors are required to conduct these inspections/tests.
Permits Required. Before requesting an inspection/test, construction permits related to the scope of work involving the installation of or modification to fire protection equipment and systems must be posted at the inspection or test location. For detailed information about FPD and DPWES construction permit requirements, consult the installation permit requirements section of our website.
Who Can Request an Inspection/Test? Appointments for acceptance inspections/tests shall only be requested by either the installing contractor, the person who obtained the FPD Permit, or the party responsible for payment. No Exceptions!
Scheduling an Inspection/Test. Acceptance inspections and tests may be scheduled as follows:
- Schedule by Telephone. Call 703-246-4821, during scheduling hours, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Due to the increased workload of office personnel, you may be asked to request an inspection or test by fax or email.
- Schedule by Email. Please email one of the following forms Water-Based Fire Protection System (PDF) or Fire Alarm, Door Lock & Alternative Fire-Extinguishing System (PDF) to Fire.AcceptanceTesting@fairfaxcounty.gov.
- Schedule by Fax. Fax the appropriate request form to 703-246-6041. Please use one of the following acceptance inspection/test request forms:
Fire Alarm Testing. Based on past experience, fire alarm contractors are encouraged to schedule fire alarm system tests 30-days prior to projected occupancy to allow time to correct deficiencies. The system shall be pre-tested prior to the scheduled acceptance inspection/test date.
Multiple Contractors Installing One Fireline. Where two or more different contractors are performing work on different portions of an underground fireline, each contractor shall obtain the appropriate construction permits for their portion of the fireline. When calling to schedule an inspection or test, the contractor shall specify which portion of the fireline is to be inspected or tested and provide the correct permit numbers. Fire lines are typically portioned into the following configurations:
- From street valve to 5' outside building
- From 5' outside building to flange inside building
- Entire UG fire line from street valve to flange inside building
Waiting List. A waiting list will be established for contractors with work that is complete. The equipment or system shall be ready for immediate testing and shall have been pre-tested prior to being placed on the waiting list. As cancellations occur, the waiting list will be utilized in the order inspection requests were received. To have an inspection request placed on the waiting list, call 703-246-4821 during scheduling hours, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please be prepared to provide the telephone phone number of a contact person available before 7 a.m. so notifications can be made about an available inspection/test for a given day.
Scheduled inspections/tests must be cancelled with a minimum notice of 24 hours (one full business day) to avoid a reinspection fee. Cancellation requests with less than 24 hours notice (except for extenuating circumstances) will result in a reinspection fee which will be billed to the contractor for the allotted inspection/test scheduled. Reinspection fees shall be based on the hours reserved to perform the test and will be charged at the rate of $156 per hour calculated on the quarter hour or part thereof, per required inspector. The fee is charged when an inspection is not cancelled in time to save an unnecessary trip by inspectors. Some circumstances will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Read More About Cancellation Guidelines ...
PREPARING FOR THE INSPECTION OR TEST
Approved Plans Required. The original signed and approved plans, cut sheets, and submittals shall be onsite for the inspector to reference/review or the inspection/test will be failed.
Pre-testing Required. All work shall be completed, systems ready and pre-tested prior to the arrival of the inspector. Failure to pre-test may result in a cancellation or inspection/test failure.
Testing Guidelines. In addition to the applicable requirements of the USBC and referenced standards, many requirements and procedures for the acceptance inspection and testing of fire protection equipment and systems, as well as special locking arrangements, are described in the Code Reference Package.
Testing in Occupied Buildings: Occupants must be notified by posting at least 24 hours prior to the test.
Residential Property Proximity: Residential properties that are in close proximity (hearing distance of alarms) have been considered and, if the condition exists, the test is scheduled to occur at 9:00 a.m. or later.