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Fire Department Requirements

The following are general requirements, with specifics addressed at the time of inspection.

Building Permits and Plan Checks (UBC 106, 107)

Required for new construction, remodeling, alterations, additions, repair, improvement, conversion, removal, demolition, and for fire extinguishing systems, fire sprinkler systems, and fire alarm and/or monitoring systems (installation or alteration).

Submit plans (in triplicate) for plan check and obtain building permits prior to construction.

Read the red writing next to the Fire Department Approval Stamp. Approval is conditional upon these requirements. Failure to read and understand these requirements may increase costs and delay job completion.

Second Exit Required

  • Retail floor space = 1500 square feet, or more.
  • Offices = 3000 square feet, or more.
  • Restaurants, bars, conference rooms, lounges = 750 square feet, or more.

  • Nurseries (day care) = 245 square feet, or more.
  • Manufacturing areas = 6000 square feet, or more.
  • Warehouses = 15,000 square feet, or more.
  • Miscellaneous = 5000 square feet, or more.

(See L.A.Co.F.C. or UBC Table 10-A for Second Exit requirements in other types of occupancies.)

Second exit shall not be closer to main exit than 2 of the diagonal of the building. Call Building and Safety or the Fire Prevention Division for clarification.

Exit doors shall open in the direction of exit travel when occupant load = 50 or more.

Exits shall not pass through kitchens, store rooms, restrooms, closets or similar spaces.

Illuminated Exit Signs required when occupant load = 50 or more.

Back-up Emergency Lighting required when occupant load = 100 or more.

(L.A.Co.F.C. 1207, 1208, 1211, 1212, Table 10-A, UBC 1003, 1004, 1012, 1013)

Locks on Required Second Exits (L.A. Co. F.C. 1207, 1208)

Door must be easily opened from the inside without a key or any special knowledge or effort, 24 hours per day.

  • No additional locks, latches, bolts, bars, chains, or other locking hardware allowed.

  • No security bars or gates allowed unless easily opened from the inside without a key and in one motion, 24 hours per day.


  • This sign must be posted on or adjacent to door, and door must actually be unlocked during business hours. People must be able to get out, but they do not have to be able to get in. If door is locked during time of inspection, this exception may be revoked by the Fire Department.

Restaurants (L.A.Co.F.C. 1003.5)

Post an Occupant Load in a conspicuous location on an approved sign near the main exit from the room.

  • Occupant load is determined by the Building Department and is usually the square footage of the dining area divided by 15.

Second Exit is required when the Occupant Load is 50, or more (= 750 square feet, or more).

  • May not exit through a kitchen.

Hood System (Fire Extinguishing System in commercial kitchens) (L.A.Co.F.C. 1006)

Required for any frying, deep-frying, or grease-producing cooking.

  • Submit plans and obtain building permits prior to construction.

Servicing required every 6 months.

40BC fire extinguisher required with hood system. 30 feet maximum travel distance to stove. (NFPA 10-2-3.2 &Table 3-3.1) Suggested sign: "FOR GREASE FIRES ONLY"

Fire Extinguishers (L.A.Co.F.C. 1002, NFPA 10, Table 3-2.1)

Minimum 2A or 2A10BC fire extinguisher for most businesses.

Annual servicing is required, also service after each use. Mount extinguisher keeping the top NO higher than 5 feet and the bottom NOT less than 4 inches from the floor. The Fire Prevention Bureau will advise in the placement of fire extinguishers.

Auto Repair Garages (L.A.Co.F.C. 2903, 1002, 7903, Table 7903.2-B, NFPA 10-1-5.3, Table 3-3.1)

Minimum 40BC fire extinguisher, 30 feet maximum travel distance from anywhere in garage.

Waste Oil shall be stored and handled as required for Class III-A liquids (as adopted in HMC):

  • INSIDE: up to six 55 gallon drums, with secondary containment.

  • OUTSIDE: submit plans and obtain building permits for storage area prior to construction.

Flammable and combustible liquids and petroleum waste products shall not be discharged or released upon sidewalks, streets, highways, drainage canals, ditches, storm drains, sewers, flood control channels, lakes, rivers, tidal waterways, or on the ground. (L.A.Co.F.C. 7901.7.1)

Flammable Liquid Storage Compartments (L.A.Co.F.C. 7902.5.9, 7902.5.8)

Required for more than 10 gallons used for maintenance or operation of equipment.

Any container with any residue is considered full by the Fire Code. (L.A.Co.F.C. 7902.3.9)

Sprinkler Systems (CCR Title 19 904, L.A.Co.F.C. APPENDIX III-C)

5 Year Certificate required every 5 years.

Extension Cords (L.A.Co.F.C. 8506, 8507, 8508, 8509)

None allowed as a substitute for permanent wiring; for portable appliances, only.

  • Exception: U.L. approved power tap w/circuit breaker okay, but must be plugged directly into electrical outlet.

Shall not be affixed to structures, or extend through walls, ceilings, floors, under doors or floor coverings, or be subject to environmental or physical damage.

30 inch clearance required around all electrical panels.

Trash Bin or Dumpster (capacity of 1.5 cubic yards or 40.5 cubic feet, or more)

Requires fire sprinkler protection if located within 5 feet of any building or property line that may be built upon. Exception: If trash area is enclosed (including a roof but excluding door or opening) in non-combustible material of at least one-hour construction. This enclosure shall be arranged to protect the exposure as required by the Fire Department. Submit plans for plan check and obtain building permits prior to construction. (HMC 17.54.010, L.A.Co.F.C. 1103.2)

Compressed Gas Cylinders (L.A.Co.F.C. 7401, 8001.9.8)

Secure (chain) whether empty or full, & label.

  • DANGER of brass valve breaking/cracking in a fall which will turn it into a deadly rocket.

Flammable gases and oxygen storage must be separated by a one-hour wall or 20 feet.

Hazardous Materials

It is unlawful to operate a business that handles hazardous materials in quantities at or above 55-gallons, 500-pounds, 200 cubic feet and/or routinely generates any amount of hazardous waste without a valid permit issued by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Health Hazardous Materials Division.

A material or waste is considered hazardous if it can potentially threaten human health or the environment and contains one or more of the following properties: flammability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity. It may contaminate the soil, surface water, and groundwater if released into the environment. Exposure to some wastes may increase the risk of cancer, neurological problems and/or birth defects.

Common hazardous materials/wastes include petroleum and lubricating oil, hydraulic oil, cutting oil, used oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, propane, paint, antifreeze (ethylene glycol), acetylene, compressed oxygen.

For further information, contact (323) 890-4000.

Fire Department (310) 263-2732

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