Fire Prevention & Education

Under the direction of the Fire Marshal, the Columbia Fire Prevention Division is ultimately responsible for providing a fire-safe environment for the citizens of Columbia. The division pursues this goal through several key responsibilities which include the inspection of new and existing building projects, commercial tenant improvement, fire protection systems, property maintenance abatement, and the review of building plans to ensure compliance with applicable codes, arson investigation, special events and false alarms abatement

The services provide by the Fire Prevention Division are broken down into the following

Code enforcement

Inspections are prioritized into three categories, High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Low Risk.

High Risk 

These occupancies may have the potential for high loss of life or significant economic impact to the community. They may include structures with required built-in fire protection systems and entertainment establishments.  A goal to inspect these occupancies annually is recommended.

Moderate Risk

These occupancies have lower occupant loads, or may have a potential for moderate economic loss, or may have processes or contents that are considered moderately hazardous. A goal to inspect these occupancies every two years is recommended.

Low Risk

These occupancies have low occupant loads, or involve processes or contents that are considered the least hazardous, and do not have a significant economic impact to the community. A goal to inspect these occupancies every three years is recommended.


The Fire Plans Examiner reviews all plans for new construction and remodeling done throughout the City of Columbia.  He is responsible for reviewing site plans, fire alarm systems, fire sprinkler systems, smoke evacuation systems, fire pumps, standpipes, generators, and tank removals and installations.

FIre Investigation

The determination of fire origin and cause is necessary for all fire incidents. The Officer in Charge is responsible for determining when a Fire Investigator is needed. This determination is dependent on the information gathered at the scene and/or circumstances of the fire. The on-duty Fire Investigator is available through Dispatch and Deployment or by phone to consult with Command prior to or during response to assist Command.


The Special Events Officer coordinates with all event promoters. He is responsible for the proper assignment of all the necessary fire and rescue units and inspectors at off duty events. He reviews and issues assembly, fireworks, and class one special event permits. He is also responsible for reviewing site approvals and conducting on site inspections of special events.

Public Fire Education

The Education Section presents safety programs to all elementary schools within the City of Columbia.  The higher elementary grades are shown educational videos on fire safety issues as well as safety issues in general.  The junior high and high school level programs are more specific to the needs of these audiences. The Education Section will also facilitate various programs as the need dictates (i.e. evacuation programs, fire safety for the disable, seasonal safety programs, elderly at home programs, etc.).  If the Education Section does not have a specific program requested, we take pride that our personnel are able to design a safety program for that need.

False Alarm Abatement

In order to reduce the number of false alarms, the City of Columbia adopted the False Alarm Ordinance. This ordinance is designed to increase the education and accountability of alarm owners in Columbia. It provides an incentive for alarm owners to repair and maintain their alarms, train their employees on alarm procedures and seek assistance from the Columbia Fire Department and local alarm companies to reduce false alarms.