Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What does the Harris County Fire Code apply to?
A: Construction or Substantial Improvement of Public Buildings, Commercial Establishments, and multifamily dwellings consisting of four or more units.

Q: What types of buildings are considered Public Buildings and Commercial Establishments?
A: Public Buildings and Commercial Establishments include any building where the public may gather or where a good or service is provided for compensation. This definition includes, but is not limited to auditoriums, classrooms, churches, libraries, restaurants, theaters, schools, daycare facilities, nursing homes, hospitals, correctional facilities, hotels, motels, dormitories, department stores, shopping centers, doctor offices, general offices, laundries and warehouses. Not included in this definition is an industrial facility having a fire brigade that conforms to requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or apartment buildings.

Q: How do I obtain a Certificate of Compliance?
A: Click to download the file.

Q: Does the Fire Code only apply to new construction?
A: Construction or Substantial Improvement of Public Buildings, Commercial Establishments, and multifamily dwellings consisting of four or more units.

Q: How do I obtain plan approval?
A: Submit drawings including the Fire Code Design and Compliance Review Sheet for review. The drawings will be reviewed and returned with comments. Re-submit the drawings for final review once comments are addressed. The review sheet and plans must be submitted in digital black line on bond or other reproducible medium such as Mylar or Velum.

Q: What about automatic fire protection system designs?
A: These designs will be submitted after the permit is issued but prior to installation of the system. They will be reviewed and returned with comments. When plans are approved their will be a fee for review and inspection. See the Harris County Permits Fee Schedule.Please reference the Fire Code Permit on your submittal.

Q: What kind of inspections do I need?
A: The Harris County Fire Marshal will perform a final inspection when your project is ready for occupancy. Instructions for requesting this inspection are found on the Fire Code website under Request for Final Inspection.

Q: How do I determine if my project requires Fire Code Review or if it qualifies for Express Review?
A: Does my project qualify for express review?
For New Facilities (spaces that were never occupied before)

1. Is your lease space 5,000 sq. feet or less?
2. Is your lease space one of the qualifying occupancy types?
- Mercantile (Retail)
- Business (Office)
- S-2 (Low Hazard/Non-Combustible Storage)
- F-2 (Low-Hazard Industrial)
For Existing Facilities (spaces that were previously occupied that are remaining the same occupancy.)
1. Is your lease space 5,000 sq. feet or less?
2. Does your lease space quality for other than occupancies H (hazardous) or I (institutional)
3. Special circumstances will be dealt with on a case by case basis as determined by the Building Official

Q: When can I start construction?
A: You may begin construction after permits are obtained.

Q: How long is my permit valid for?
A: Permit is valid to start construction within 180 days from date permit is issued, or the permit shall be null and void. Upon written request, two six-month extensions may be obtained to start construction, before permit expires. Permit remains valid for the duration of the construction.

Q: Can I apply for a permit before plans are approved?
A: Permits are not issued until plans are approved or unless the Fire Code Review department determines that a review is not required. Permits are not issued until plans are approved or unless the Fire Code Review department determines that a review is not required.

Q: What information do I need to provide when submitting for review?
A: All submittals for Express Review must include a dimensioned floor plan, site plan, HCAD number, shell building permit number, a completed Express Permit Application and any detailed information about the use of the space (including storage details if applicable) so that we can determine occupancy classification or identify any hazards.
All submittals for Fire Code Review must include a completed Fire Code Review sheet, dimensioned architectural plans, site plan showing fire lane and hydrant locations, and any detailed information about the use of the space (including storage details if applicable) so that we can determine occupancy classification or identify any hazards.
All submittals for Express Review must include a dimensioned floor plan, site plan, HCAD number, shell building permit number, a completed Express Permit Application and any detailed information about the use of the space (including storage details if applicable) so that we can determine occupancy classification or identify any hazards.
All submittals for Fire Code Review must include a completed Fire Code Review sheet, dimensioned architectural plans, site plan showing fire lane and hydrant locations, and any detailed information about the use of the space (including storage details if applicable) so that we can determine occupancy classification or identify any hazards.

Q: Can I expedite my plan review?
A: Harris County does not expedite reviews at this time. We do try to work with customers to the best of our ability in emergency situations on a case by case basis.

Q: How can I check on the status of my plans?
A: You may register with Harris County to get a login and password to the website. Once you login you can check the status of plans that you or your firm has submitted.

Q: How do I obtain a permit?
A: If your project was submitted and approved with a Fire Code Review, submit 2 copies of your approved plans (keep the original copy for your records) along with a completed Development Application to the permit office.
If your project was submitted for Express Review your permit will be issued when your plans are approved. You will receive a notification call to pick up your plans at the cashier window. A fee statement will be given so that you can purchase the permit at this time.

Q: How much does a permit cost?
A: The permit fee is relative to the project scope and project review type. See the Harris County Permits Fee Schedule posted on our website. This fee includes the review as well as final inspection and Certificate of Compliance.

Q: What if I fail my final inspection? Is there a re-inspection fee?
A: The first inspection and first re-inspection fee is included in the original permit fee. Subsequent re-inspection fees are assessed at $260 each.

Q: What if I need an interpretation of the fire code?
A: Check the fire code website codeword section. If you cannot find the answer, you can submit a written question to codeword@hcpid.org. This will allow the question and interpretation to be posted on the County's website.