State Fire Marshal’s Office Urges Building Fire Safety During Pandemic

Building Fire Safety Regulations Remain Critical During Pandemic
Thursday, April 09, 2020 | 09:01am

NASHVILLE – As part of following Tennessee Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order No. 23, Tennessee residents should stay at home in order to help save lives and stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19).

As many employees work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, once fully occupied buildings across Tennessee are near vacant or dramatically underused. During this period, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) joins the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Codes Council (ICC), two internationally recognized leaders in building safety, to urge local governments as well as building and business owners to remember that all fire protection and life safety systems must be maintained in all commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings.

“Even as we remain focused on stopping the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot lose sight of the importance of fire safety during this time,” said State Fire Marshal and Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Commissioner Hodgen Mainda. “It is particularly critical that all fire safety regulations be followed in order to not further strain emergency healthcare resources and put first-responders’ lives at risk in the event of a fire.”

Although the SFMO staff is currently working remotely, the changes to SFMO-conducted operations do not affect existing life safety requirements. Life safety, property protection, and code-required inspections still must be conducted according to regular maintenance schedules.

In order to avoid exacerbating the current environment by compromising fire and life safety, and leaving buildings vulnerable to vandalism, the following key items are still required:

  • All commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings should maintain fully operational fire and life safety systems as required by the applicable codes and standards in Tennessee.
  • Those responsible for these buildings should adhere to the expected schedules for inspection, testing, and maintenance that are vital to their operation. If they are unable to do so, they should contact their local authority having jurisdiction.
  • New construction must still satisfy applicable plans review requirements and building, electrical, fire, plumbing and mechanical code requirements. If, because of COVID-19, the contractor is unable to comply with any of those requirements, the contractor should contact the authority having jurisdiction for guidance.   

To see additional guidance from the SFMO, visit us on our website.