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When the topic of fire prevention code and fire safety and comes up, rarely does anyone consider the use of signage; however, identification signs are a standard requisite for the installation of sprinkler systems is California. When fire sprinkler systems are installed, identification signs must be installed at the same time. Whether you are concerned with San Francisco fire prevention codes or Oakland fire protection codes, these identification signs must be installed wherever fire sprinkler systems are installed.

According to NFPA 13, identification signs are standard for the installation of sprinkler systems in San Francisco, and other metropolitan California cities. Additionally, NFPA 25 makes testing and maintenance of water-based fire protection systems and sprinkler systems in San Francisco a standard requisite. During San Francisco fire inspections, the inspector will be responsible for ensuring that all signs are in their proper place.


In order to provide the fire department with important information concerning valves, hydraulic information and relative components, identification signs have been deemed mandatory for San Francisco fire inspections. Additionally, these signs provide highly critical information that must be accessed and comprehended in a relatively rapid fashion in the case of emergency.


To ensure that the identification signs have the durability and longevity that is required, they are required to be made of metal of highly rigid plastic. In addition to the rigidity of the sign, requirements also dictate the lettering on the sign be of a permanent nature. Additionally, for further security purposes, all signs are required to be secured by a chain or the equivalent thereof.


Oakland fire protection codes require that businesses that have sprinkler systems in Oakland and other cities in California have identification signs at all sprinkler system control valves in order to effectively communicate the function of the valve as well as what it controls. This not only helps the fire department during the course of a fire emergency–but it also provides necessary information to end-users, so that they are able to identify which portion of the building is serviced by the particular valve that is associated with the sign.

Additionally, San Francisco fire protection codes dictate that sprinkler systems that have more than one control valve must have a sign at each valve, which refers to the existence and location of the subsequent valves. The more complex the system, the more complex the signage. In other words, the complexity of the signage will be in direct correspondence with the design of the sprinkler system.


When it comes to hydraulic systems, San Francisco fire protection codes require that an identification sign that reveals the hydraulic system design be displayed. The sign can be placed in a number of places including the dry pipe valve, alarm valve, pre-action valve or the deluge valve that supplies the hydraulically designed area. Each sign will be required to contain certain information including residual pressure and discharge densities.


Identification signs are not the only requirements when it comes to fire safety. The fire safety code in California is quite extensive. There have been some recent changes that are worth mentioning. As far as smoke alarms are concerned, any smoke alarms including those that are considered combination, solely battery powered smoke alarms must contain a non-removable, non-replaceable battery that has the capacity to power the alarm for a minimum of 10 years.

The primary purpose of a smoke alarm or smoke detector is to provide an audible cautioning in the earliest stages of a fire. When conducting a Berkeley fire inspection, it is paramount to ensure that all smoke detectors are operable and meet the minimum requirement. It was several years ago that the State of California began using the International Code of Council Standards, which currently is being referred to as simply “the building code”. This new code actually allows some materials that are considered highly flammable to be used in the construction of larger buildings. This has prompted the fire departments to become more aggressive in the writing of citations when conducting Berkeley fire inspections.

When it comes to installing a fire alarm in San Francisco, it is paramount to understand the permit regulations and the false alarm penalties. When a system is calibrated too high, it can be extremely sensitive to smoke and can set off a false alarm. According to California Penal Code 148.4 PC, an accidental false alarm will receive a warning on the first occurrence, and the building management will be subject to a fine the second time there is a false fire alarm in San Francisco.

The aforementioned codes, signage and smoke alarm requirements are no joke. Make sure you property is following any new regulations and requirements in 2015. If you have any questions, reach out to Aura Fire Safety!

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