Fire Inspection Reports 101: What Are They and Why Do They Take So Long?

Inspecting your fire safety equipment is an essential part of your fire safety plan. Ensuring your fire safety equipment is up to par with regulations and guidelines keeps both your building and, more importantly, your people safe from harm. When a fire inspection occurs, sometimes it can feel like forever until you receive that report back. At Fortis, we understand that your fire protection systems are only as effective as the inspection performed on them. This is why we make it our commitment to provide reports onsite, or shortly after depending on the inspection.

In an effort to explain why these reports seem to take forever at times, we’re going to lead you in a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what goes into a fire inspection report. 

What’s Included in a Fire Inspection Report? 

Type of Inspection

Depending on your building and area, there are different inspections that are required under NFPA codes and guidelines. 

Some of the types of general inspections include: 

  • Routine Building Inspections
  • Fire Suppression System Inspections
  • Sprinkler System Inspections
  • Harbor and Marine Inspections
  • Specialty Inspections

In some cases, a company or commercial building owner can request a specialty fire and safety inspection, in this case, an inspection might take longer than a 24 hour response time. Each system is scheduled for one or multiple inspections throughout the year, all with different requirements and regulations to look out for. The timing depends on the equipment being inspected. Some inspections should be performed monthly, while others may occur annually. 


During an inspection, the fire safety expert will closely monitor and inspect a few different devices in your commercial building. 

What are these different devices?

Certified Fire Extinguishers

Included in this inspection is counting the number and type of fire extinguishers throughout the building. Per NFPA code fire extinguishers are required to be inspected and certified by a licensed fire protection contractor. NFPA 10 states that extinguishers must be inspected when they are initially installed and once a month after that.  There are a variety of fire extinguishers that need to be inspected, these include:

  • Water Mist
  • Clean Agent
  • Foam
  • Wet Chemical
  • CO2
  • ABC Dry Chemical
  • Class A, B, C, D, and K

All of these different extinguishers have different purposes, therefore their inspections have different requirements. Examining all of these extinguishers takes time, which may further delay your inspection report hitting your desk. 

Emergency Lighting

Emergency illumination could mean life or death for your employees during a fire. Ensuring your emergency lighting is working and is in the correct areas is essential to your building’s fire safety.

Fire Suppression Systems

Fire suppression systems are used to extinguish or control fires and are activated by heat, smoke or a combination of the two. There are various types that might be installed in your commercial building, depending on your industry. These suppression systems include: 

  • Clean Agent
  • CO2 Systems
  • Wet Chemical
  • Dry Chemical

Understanding the purpose behind the different fire suppression systems can be confusing, especially if you’re not in the fire and life safety industry. In an effort to help you understand the differences between the various suppression systems that may be used in your building, we’ve written this article.  

Fire Sprinkler Systems

During an inspection, fire sprinkler systems need to be inspected for signs of wear and tear or signs of malfunction. Fire safety experts are looking for rust, corrosion, or broken parts. In order to remain proactive with your fire safety equipment, you can be on the lookout for a few things:

  • Once a week check the gauges in dry, pre-action, and deluge systems. 
  • Once a month check gauges in the wet pipe systems.
  • Once every three months inspect the water flow alarm devices, the signal devices, the hydraulic nameplates, and the valves. 
  • Once a year check the pipes, fittings, spare sprinklers, and signage and make sure it has been reviewed.
  • Once every five years inspect the sprinkler piping. 

Not only are there many areas of your sprinkler system that need to be inspected, but there are also testing requirements that need to be met for a few different components of your system. 

  • The entire system (low flow tests, alarm tests, trip tests, etc.) needs to be inspected once a year.
  • Mechanical systems within the sprinkler should be tested quarterly.
  • Vane and pressure switch devices should be tested twice a year.

Alarm and Detection Systems

Alarm and Detection systems are additional systems that are reviewed during your fire safety inspection. These systems should be checked weekly, monthly, semiannually, or annually depending on the NFPA schedule to ensure that they would work in case of an emergency. 

During the visual inspection, you or your fire safety expert will be reviewing the following:

  • Control equipment, including fuses, LEDs, power supply, and trouble signals should be inspected weekly to ensure the fire alarm system is working properly.
  • Batteries must be inspected for corrosion or leakage weekly or semiannually, depending on the type of battery.
  • Duct detectors, heat detectors, and smoke detectors need to be examined semiannually.
  • The entire system must be inspected annually to ensure there are no changes that affect the performance of the equipment. 

The technical pieces of Alarm and Detection systems need to be closely examined. For example, the backup battery supply can only be tested if the fire inspection team disconnects all of the main power sources. All batteries (primary and secondary) must categorize no less than 2.05 volts per cell under load, and have no leakage or corrosion. 

Fortis also looks at the surroundings of the Alarm and Security devices. While smoke detectors, duct detectors, and heat detectors should be reviewed twice a year, their surroundings can become just as hazardous in case of an emergency. All of these detectors must be seen from a clear site, and not covered or blocked visually.

Ready To Have Your Systems Inspected? Consider Fortis 

Ensure your building is safe and up to fire protection code compliance by partnering with a company that specializes in fire protection. With over 300 NFPA codes and standards, the rules can get complicated quickly– especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. Luckily, we do. 

At Fortis, we provide world-class fire protection services nationwide. Learn more about our services, here.