Fire Department Permits and Inspections

Operational Permits

Operational permits affect a wide range of businesses. Any business that handles, stores, or uses substances, materials, or devices we consider hazardous needs one. These regulations are outlined in the City of Grand Rapids Fire Code, 2012 International Fire Code. The regulations cover any processes that produce conditions hazardous to life or property, or establishing a place of assembly.

The Fire Chief or his designee determines whether the operation needs a permit. We have a guide to help you find out if you need a permit. We also post the application for a permit here.

Fire Alarm Permits

If you have a fire alarm that contacts us directly when it's triggered, you need to register it. This applies to every fire alarm system in the City of Grand Rapids. Make sure you stay in compliance and register your system.

Fire Alarm Registration

Welding and Other Hot Work Permits

You'll need a welding permit for any operations that include cutting, welding, or other hot work operations:

  • Thermite welding
  • Brazing
  • Soldering
  • Grinding
  • Thawing Pipe
  • Installation of Torch-Applied Roofing
  • Other hot work

Fill out and Post Your Hot Work Permit

You'll need to fill out a hot work permit before conducting any hot work.

Who requires a Hot Work Permit

  • Facilities and/or businesses that conduct hot work operations and have an approved Hot Work Program require an yearly operational permit from the Grand Rapids Fire Department (GRFD). Hot work shall only be conducted in areas designed or authorized by the personnel responsible for a Hot Work Program.

Any hot work in the following areas will require an inspection by the Fire Prevention Division and a separate operational permit:

1. Areas where the sprinkler system is impaired.
2. Areas where there exists the potential of an explosive atmosphere, such as locations where flammable gases, liquids or vapors are present.
3. Areas with readily ignitable materials, such as storage of large quantities of bulk sulfur, baled paper, cotton, lint, dust or loose combustible materials.

Hot work operations at construction sites are generally permitted under the building permit. The general contractor shall designate personnel responsible for a Hot Work Program who shall review sites prior to issuing permits as part of the Hot Work Program and follow up as the job progresses.

Permits for all hot work operations not covered in the above two points shall require a separate permit and inspection by the Fire Prevention Division for each occurrence.

How To Use The Cutting/Welding Hot Work Permit

The Hot Work Permit is issued to the person who will be welding, cutting or performing other hot work. The permit is issued only after the facility's or construction site's approved person authorized to administer the Hot Work Program (or their alternate) has inspected the work area and satisfactorily completed the inspection checklist, being able to answer yes to all questions. The permit should be attached to the welding equipment. Immediately upon completion of hot work, the permit should be returned to the person who authorized it or their alternate and signed off. This permit should be kept on file for at least 48 hours.

Cutting, welding, and other hot work which is done by contractors must be permitted under a building permit or, if no building permit was issued, by obtaining a separate permit from the Grand Rapids Fire Department.

Precautions For Cutting, Welding, Or Hot Work

  • Perform hot work in a properly arranged fixed location [welding booth, maintenance shop area set up for hot work] (except when the job cannot be moved to it).
  • Use only equipment that is in good condition. Valves, regulators, hoses, and torches should be thoroughly checked.
  • Refrain from using welding, cutting or other hot work equipment in a building where sprinklers are out of service without a permit and inspection from Grand Rapids Fire Department inspection personnel.
  • Move combustibles at least 35 feet from hot work operations. If combustibles cannot be moved, they must be protected by metal guards or by listed flame proof curtains, blankets or covers rather than ordinary tarpaulins.
  • Prohibit hot work in or on vessels containing flammable or combustible materials, including residues, until they have been completely cleaned and purged.
  • Check the atmosphere for combustible gases or vapors where necessary, using reliable detection equipment. If there is a chance of a gas vapor release during hot work operations, continuous-duty portable combustible gas detectors should be used to constantly monitor the area.
  • Prohibit hot work until surrounding floors have been swept clean and, if combustible, wet down.
  • Prohibit hot work until all wall and floor openings within 35 feet of the operations have been tightly covered or otherwise protected with metal guards or listed flame proofed tarpaulins or blankets.
  • Prohibit hot work until responsible persons (fire watch) have been assigned to watch for dangerous sparks in the area and on floors above and below.
  • Secure gas cutting and welding cylinders so they will not be upset or damaged and replace protective caps on all cylinders not actually in use.
  • Carefully connect the ground clamp when using electrical or welding equipment. Since an improperly made ground can be a source of ignition, the ground clamp should be connected as close to the work as possible so that it may be easily observed.
  • Arrange for a patrol of the area, including floors above and below, during any break in the work, such as lunch or rest periods, and for at least half an hour after the work has been completed. If the hot work ends near the time of a shift change, arrangements should be made for the patrols to continue into the next shift.
  • Use portable stands to elevate welding hose or cable off floor areas where it can be easily damaged.
  • Prohibit hot work until a permit is obtained from the person authorized to issue permits.
  • Where hot work is performed close to automatic sprinklers, individual sprinkler heads may be shielded with noncombustible barriers or damp cloth guards, which will be removed when work is completed. If hot work extends over several days, shields shall be removed at the end of each work day.
  • Approved special precautions shall be taken to avoid accidental operation of fire alarm systems. If any part of the fire alarm system is disabled, a fire watch is required.

The above are considered minimum precautions for hot work operations. There may be other potential hazards present that need additional safeguards.

Fire Watch Requirements

  • Fire watches will be provided in all areas that contain combustibles or fire hazards.
  • The fire watch shall include the entire hot work area. Hot work conducted in areas with horizontal or vertical openings that are not observeable by a single person shall have additional personnel assigned to fire watches to ensure that all areas are monitored.
  • Individuals designated to fire watch duty shall have fire-extinguishing equipment readily available and shall be trained in the use of such equipment.
  • Hot work operators and fire watch personnel shall be trained in the use of portable fire extinguishers.
  • A minimum of one portable fire extinguisher with a minimum 2-A:20-B:C rating shall be readily accessible within 30 feet of the location where hot work is performed.
  • Fire watch shall monitor hot work area for at least 30 minutes after the conclusion of operations, or longer if determined necessary by person responsible for hot work program.

Special Events

We inspect the use of anything that produces open flames in special events. For more information about the special event permit process, we've put together a detailed guide.

Special Event Permit Guide

Existing Commercial Building Inspections

Commercial buildings are inspected by the Grand Rapids Fire Department to ensure that life safety and property protection of the the Fire Code are being maintained. These inspections are primarily conducted and over seen by the Fire Prevention Division.

The Grand Rapids Fire Department provides pre-inspection packets to the business owner prior to the inspection date. Here's a look at what's in the packets:

  • General Fire Inspection Requirements
  • Inspection Procedures for Existing Buildings, and
  • Fire Inspection Service Fees

Checklist and Packet

Pyrotechnic Special Effects Permits

Any request to use pyrotechnic special effects in performances and to conduct fireworks displays must be approved by the City Commission. Effective February 9, 2007, the Grand Rapids Fire Department became responsible for administering the Pyrotechnic Special Effects Operational Permit (also known as Firework Discharge Permit) process.

The Fire Department will now be processing all Fireworks Discharge Permits through our office at 38 LaGrave Ave SE. You'll need to fill out more than one application to get your permit. The applications and a guide to help you fill them out are below.

Recreational Fire Permits

You'll need this permit if you want to use a fire pit in your backyard. This process is managed by the Development Center, but we have a set of instructions to help you get your permit.

Recreational Fire Permits