FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Businesses

Q: How often should I expect a fire code inspection?

A: The goal for the Vancouver Fire Marshal was a two-year inspection cycle. However, due to severe staffing reductions it may in fact be much longer.

Q: I received a fire code inspection but the neighboring business did not. How come?

A: There are several reasons why a business may get an inspection. It could be an uncorrected deficiency from a previous inspection, a reported violation, a reported fire protection system deficiency, and so on. The best answer for your specific business will come from the fire inspectors themselves.

Q: Where can I get my fire extinguisher recharged or inspected & tagged?

A: Please check your local telephone directory under fire extinguishers. The Vancouver Fire Department does not recharge or inspect & tag fire extinguishers.

Q: Do I really need so many fire extinguishers?

A: With some exceptions, the minimum quantity of fire extinguishers required is enough to meet the requirement for one on each level and no more than 75’ of foot travel distance from anywhere on the same level to a fire extinguisher.

Q: What is wrong with using extension cords or multiple power strips "daisy chained" together?

A: The fire code prohibits using extension cords in place of permanent wiring. It also prohibits interconnecting of power strips. Power strips must be connected directly to a permanent electrical outlet. The primary issue is that a product must be used in accordance with the product listing. Fires have resulted from the incorrect use of cords and power strips.

Q: How can I get my daycare or pre-school inspected?

A: Please contact the State Fire Marshal and request and inspection. The Vancouver Fire Marshal does not have the staffing to provide these State mandated inspections. http://www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/firemars.htm or E-mail firemarsh@wsp.wa.gov  Washington State Patrol General Administration Building PO Box 42600 Olympia WA 98504-2600 (360) 596-4000

Q: How do I report overcrowding in a business assembly event?

A: If it is an emergency you should call 911. Otherwise for businesses located within the City limits, contact the Fire Marshal's Office by using the contact link.

Q: How to I report a locked or blocked exit?

A: To report blocked exits, locked emergency doors, contact the Fire Marshal's Office. For marked exits that are blocked or locked during an event or in a venue with large numbers of people, call 911 and ask to have the Fire Marshal paged.

CPR

Q: Are we providing CPR training?

A: Currently we are referring people the NW Regional Training Center at 360-397-2100; or contact the local Red Cross 360-693-5821. Please visit our CPR page to learn about "Hands Only" CPR.

Disaster Planning

Q: Are we helping with disaster preparedness planning?

A: No. Because of significant staff reductions, we are unable to provide this kind of training. However, there are useful resources on our web page that can help you create a well thought out plan.

Employment & Volunteering

Q: Recruitment questions; How can I become a volunteer or an employed firefighter?

A: You may find your answers under the About link in the menu.

Fire Hydrants

Q: Can a public fire hydrant be used on a temporary basis for private or commercial use?

A: For rules and regulations regarding fire hydrant use, please see the fire hydrants policy, or call the City of Vancouver Utilities division at (360) 487-7999.

Fire Marshal's Office

Q: Where is the City Fire Marshal’s Office located?

A: 7110 NE 63rd St. Vancouver, WA 98661

Q: How do I know if my Vancouver property is under the City of Vancouver Fire Marshal’s jurisdiction or the Clark County Fire Marshal’s Jurisdiction?

A: Use our "Do I live in the City" online map at www.cityofvancouver.us/CityLimitsMap .Enter the address and the location will be displayed on the map. Or, Visit the Clark County Property Information Center. Search for address or owner's name, then look for "Jurisdiction" in the Administrative Data column on the left.

Fire Station Special Requests

Q: Will you facilitate a tour of the fire station for my pre-school or other group?

A: Please visit our Station Visit page. Use the Contact link and specify which specific fire station you have in mind. Remember that firefighters are very busy and may not be there when you show up or may have to leave in the middle of your tour.

(Because there are so many, Scout groups are provided one specific day, typically in May. Your individual fire station captain should have more information about that when it is available each year.)

Q: Do you still provide fire station birthday parties for charitable auctions and fund raisers?

A: Generally no. Due to the increasing demand on existing staff, we are no longer able to routinely provide this popular service.

Q: Who can use the community/training rooms at some of the fire stations and how can I reserve one?

A: Our meeting rooms are frequently available for non-profit groups. To request a room at a fire station near you use the Contact link.

Fireworks

Q: Are fireworks legal Vancouver?

A: Not inside the City limits. Discharging fireworks inside the city limits can result in fines starting at $500.00

Q: I have some fireworks that I don't want. How do I dispose of them?

A: In most cases the Vancouver Police Department can accept consumer fireworks for disposal. Please Contact with them to make arrangements. (360) 487-7400 or vanpd@cityofvancouver.us

Q: To whom do I report a neighbor using fireworks inside the City limits?

A: Call 911.

Grass or vegetation that may be a fire hazard

Q: How do I report overgrown grass and weeds?

A: Our process starts with the Vancouver Code Enforcement Department. You only need to call one phone number: Code Complaint Line: (360) 487-7810. The Vancouver Code Enforcement Department will notify property owners to have overgrown properties cut before they become a fire hazard. Code Enforcement Department also works with the Fire Marshal’s Office to address dry vegetation that has become a fire hazard.

Outdoor Burning

Q: Can I have an outdoor fire on my property?

A: Normally yes, but there are conditions:

Vancouver is a permanent no-burn area. However, small recreational fires are allowed under 3'x3'x2', using charcoal or seasoned firewood (not dimensional lumber), without a permit. No burn barrels! Burn barrel use was banned in the State of Washington in 2000, and burning garbage has been illegal since 1967. For more information please visit our outdoor burning page

During hot dry summer months occasionally the water content of the vegetation will become so low that the Fire Marshal will require a temporary burn ban. This means that even recreational fires are prohibited.

Occasionally, the Southwest Clean Air Agency (SCAA) will require a temporary burn ban due to air quality problems. To report an outdoor fire in during these SCAA burn bans call 1-800-633-0709 or file an online complaint. Visit the SW Clean Air Agency for more details.

Q: My neighbor’s recreational fire smoke is blowing into my property. Is that legal?

A: No. The Vancouver Municipal Code and SW Clean Air Authority prohibit recreational fires that are a nuisance. If wind or smoke drift conditions could make the smoke a nuisance to a neighbor then the fire is required to be extinguished immediately.

Q: Can I have a large bonfire?

A: No, the State of Washington has permanently banned open burning such as bonfires in the City of Vancouver and its urban growth boundaries. You may have a recreational fire pit under certain criteria. Only charcoal or seasoned fire wood may be burned in a fire pit.

Certain larger fires can be conducted where permitted and approved by both the Fire Marshal and the SW Clean Air Agency. Generally approvals pertain to religious/ceremonial functions.

Q: Can I burn yard debris?

A: No, the State of Washington has permanently banned the burning of yard debris or trash in the City of Vancouver and its urban growth boundaries.

Q: Can I use a burn barrel?

A: No, the State of Washington has permanently banned the burning of anything using a barrel.

Q: Can I have a portable outdoor fireplace on my property?

A: Yes, in most cases. If the fireplace is within 25 feet of a structure it must be in an approved container. Only charcoal or seasoned fire wood may be burned.

Q: Can I have a permanent outdoor fireplace constructed on my property?

A: Yes but you will need to use the City’s permit and inspection process to do that. Call 360-487-7200 or visit their web page.

Parking and Fire Lanes

Q: How close to a fire hydrant can a vehicle park?

A: Generally not closer than 15 feet unless regulatory signs or markings allow parking closer.

Per Washington law, RCW 46.61.570 states that it is illegal to park within 15 feet of a fire hydrant, "except momentarily to pick up or discharge a passenger or passengers". That means that the driver is at the wheel ready to pull out of the way of an approaching emergency vehicle.

Q: Can I leave my vehicle in a fire lane?

A: No. Whether it is marked by signs or not, the International Fire Code prohibits obstruction of the required width of fire department access roads, including temporary parking of unattended vehicles. If you are unsure about a parked vehicle contact the Fire Marshal's Office. Remember, if someone is at the wheel it is acceptable to stage a moving van or other vehicle in the fire lane provided they are qualified and prepared to immediately move it if an emergency vehicle approaches. An unoccupied vehicle in a marked fire lane is subject to a parking fine and a possible tow at the owner's expense.

Q: My street is marked "NO PARKING" but I need to unload my moving truck, how can I do that?

A: As long as a driver remains at the vehicle, it can be staged for active loading or unloading under the assumption that the driver can quickly move the vehicle for an approaching emergency vehicle.

Q: Can I park my vehicle in front of Fire Protection Equipment?

A: No. Most drivers know not to park in front of a fire hydrant but did you know it is also illegal to park in front of other fire protection equipment such as fire department connections and control valves? Vehicles parked in front of fire hydrants or fire sprinkler equipment can be ticketed.

Parking Fines range from $100 to $500

Public Education

Q: My child had been overly curious about fire and/or setting fires. What should I do?

A: The Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office does provide a comprehensive evaluation and education process for children and their parents. For further information , please contact our office at 360-487-7260.

Q: Are you doing falls prevention presentations?

A: No. Due to increasing demands on existing staff the fire department is not able to provide this service.

Q: Are you doing education presentations?

A: On a very limited basis, our Fire Marshal's Office together with our Fire Corps Volunteers can participate in large scale public education events. Please contact our office to learn more.

Recalls

Q: How do I find out if items I purchased have been recalled?

A: Product Recalls are frequently initiated or published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Please search their web site frequently for products you may own. You can also sign up for email notices on their web site.

The Vancouver Fire marshal’s Office encourages you to register newly purchased items. Did you know that product registration has value beyond the life of the warranty? It also enables the manufacturer to contact you directly for both required and voluntary recalls.

Residential

Q: Do I live within the City limits?

A: When contacting the Fire Marshal it is important to know if you are inside or outside the Vancouver City limits. Click here to find out.

Q: How do I report vegetation that I think is a fire hazard?

A: Concerns or complaints about hazardous vegetation are now being handled by City of Vancouver Code Enforcement staff under the Minimum Property Maintenance Standards. Please contact the City of Vancouver Code Enforcement Department 360-487-7200. City of Vancouver Code Enforcement Department. When the Fire Department determines that the moisture content gets below a certain level, the Code Enforcement staff then forward the complaint to the Fire Marshal.

Q: Does my landlord have to provide smoke alarms in my rental?

A: Yes. Washington State law requires the landlord to install working smoke detectors on each level and inside sleeping rooms. Replacing the battery however, is the tenant’s responsibility.

Q: Does my landlord have to provide Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors?

A: Landlords are required to install CO detectors by January 1, 2013. As with smoke detectors, tenants are required to maintain the units.

Q: What does Washington State law require for CO alarms?

A:

  • By January 1, 2011 carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in all new residential construction in R-1, R-2 and R-3 occupancies where an attached garage or fuel-fired heat source is present.
  • By January 1, 2013 carbon monoxide alarms must be installed in existing dwelling and sleeping units in hotels, motels, apartments and single family residential units where an attached garage or fuel-fired heat source is present.
  • Owner-occupied single-family residences, legally occupied before July 26, 2009, are not required to have CO alarms until they are sold.
  • Alarms must be located outside of each separate sleeping area, in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom.
  • Single station carbon monoxide alarms must be listed as complying with UL 2034, and installed in accordance with the code and the manufacturer’s instructions.

Q: Do I need a CO detector?

A: Install and maintain CO detectors in your home if you use a fireplace, natural gas or other fuel burning appliances. More information here

Q: What is Vancouver’s Fire Insurance rating?

A: All addresses within the city limits have a class 4 insurance rating.

Q: Where can I get my child car seat inspected or ask questions about that?

A: Please contact Safe Kids at 360-450-8997 or online at www.safekids.org

Q: Where is the nearest fire hydrant to my house?

A: If your water is supplied by Clark Public Utilities call at 360-992-3000. If the City of Vancouver supplies your water please call City Operations at 360-487-8177

Reports

Q: How can I get a copy of a fire investigation or building inspection report?

A: Please use the on-line public request form at Public records or Contact the Public Records Officer at 360-487-8711.

Swimming Pools

Q: Swimming pools: Can the Fire Department send an engine to fill my swimming pool from a fire hydrant?

A: No. The Fire Department doesn’t have the time, staff or resources to provide this kind of service. Additionally, you would need a permit and meter from the City to access a fire hydrant and then you’d pay for the water you used.

Vendors - Mobile Food Vending

Q: Are mobile food vendor vehicles regulated by the Vancouver Fire Marshal?

A: No. However, they are subject to regulations by the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Industries (L & I) for employee safety using WISHA rules. In terms of fire safety, WISHA rules may include the installation & maintenance of a portable fire extinguisher, the maintenance of an automatic kitchen fire suppression system and the prevention of hazardous conditions such as grease build-up in the kitchen ventilation system or subjecting compressed gas cylinders to vehicle impact.

Other Questions?

If you still don't see your answer please use the Contact link in the menu.