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Code Enforcement FAQ

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 What codes are enforced by the Franklin Fire Department?

My building/business has been here for many years.  Are the conditions grandfathered so I don't have to make changes?

What are the most common fire department planning and submittal issues?

How do I submit fire sprinkler drawings for review?

What are the most common inspection problems found in new construction?

What are the most common hazards by occupancy type?


Codes Enforced by the Franklin Fire Department

The Franklin Fire Department enforces the 2018 edition of the International Fire Code (IFC), the 2018 edition of the National Fire Protection (NFPA) Life Safety Code 101, and codes referenced therein.  These codes and regulations apply to both new and existing buildings as indicated in the applicable code section(s). 

Limited online access to the International Code Series is provided by the International Code Council at

The Franklin Municipal Code Title VII also contains fire code-related provisions that are enforced by the department. You can find the fire protection section of the Franklin Municipal Code online at



Existing Buildings/Occupancies and "Grandfathering"

Grandfathering is actually a term used in zoning and certain planning applications.  The fire and life safety codes contain provisions for both new and existing occupancies.  Existing buildings and businesses are required to comply with the minimum requirements for existing occupancies unless they make changes to the building or tenant space.  When this occurs, or when a change of use occurs (from Business to Assembly, Business to Educational, Mercantile to Business, etc.), the building or tenant space may be required to comply with requirements for new construction.  The plan review process is designed to assist business owners and architects with these types of transitions.


Fire Department Planning and Submittal Issues

The following issues are frequently identified as causing delays in the approval process.  Although each of these may not be pertinent to every project, most should be considered.

1.  Provide a valid water flow test indicating 1,500 gpm at 20 psi is available at the project site.

2.  Provide connectivity proactively to other streets and/or private property through cross access easements.

3.  Provide fire apparatus access within 150 ft. of all part of the building.  Access roads must be all-weather capable of supporting the weight of fire apparatus.

4.  Turning radius on streets must comply with the department's turning requirements for the largest apparatus.  Please contact the Fire Marshal's Office for these specifications.

5.  Consider a master addressing plan early.

6.  Provide a fire sprinkler lateral for all buildings 5,000 gross SF and larger.

7.  Provide a Fire Department Connection (FDC) on the address/front side of the building.  Provide a fire hydrant within 150 ft. of the FDC for sprinklered buildings and within 400 ft. of non-sprinklered buildings.

8.  Locate hydrants on the public water main where possible.

9.  Locate hydrants near intersections for better visibility.

10.  Submit to the appropriate water utility for a preliminary review.

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Fire Sprinkler Submittal Process

The City of Franklin uses an online submittal process for all plan reviews.  The internet portal for plan submission is sprinkler plans must be submitted in both Auto-CAD (.dwg) format and Adobe (.pdf).

New Construction Issues

The following issues are frequently identified as causing delays in the inspection process. Although each of these may not be pertinent to every project, most should be considered.

1.  Fire Service water lines (underground)

  • General Contractor didn't call for visual inspection before covering
  • Fire service line not flushed or not witnessed by the Fire Department
  • Underground plans not on site
  • Thrust blocks not installed properly
  • Underground paperwork not provided by the contractor

2.  Hot Box and Fire Line meter pit/vault

  • Control valves are not chained and locked or otherwise supervised with approved tamper switches (some building/occupancies may require multiple locking methods; please contact the appropriate Fire Inspector to discuss)
  • Heat not provided in the hot box (backflow) by direct wiring; switches are not allowed-heat must be controlled only by thermostat to maintain at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit at all times
  • Sump pump in pit/vault not operational
  • Fire Department does not have access to the hot box enclosure or pit/vault due to landscaping or construction

3.  Fire hydrants

  • Obstructed by bushes and landscaping
  • Installed in the wrong location/not according to approved plans
  • Installed with large connection facing wrong direction
  • Not painted properly according to public/private hydrant
  • Not turned on (hydrant valve(s) closed) or otherwise not in service

4.  Building

  • Address missing, not correct, not in correct location (on the front of the building), or numbers are not large enough to be visible in all types of lighting/weather conditions
  • Knox Box is not installed (required where fire sprinkler systems or fire detection/alarm systems are present)
  • Master keys for building/tenant spaces are not provided to be placed in the Knox Box
  • Exit signs missing or not working
  • Emergency lighting missing or not working
  • Unapproved door hardware or proper door hardware missing
  • Doors do not have proper fire resistance rating as required for the construction/according to building plans
  • Penetrations in rated fire walls are not sealed with approved materials or in appropriate manner

5.  Automatic Sprinkler System

  • General Contractor did not call for above ground piping inspection
  • Main drain not piped to the exterior of the building (unless otherwise specifically approved)
  • Inspector test discharge missing test head or not sized for testing
  • Paint or foreign material on sprinkler heads (including approved bags used during spray painting)
  • Control valves not locked or equipped with a tamper switch
  • Heat missing or not working in the riser room (thermostatically controlled only)
  • Weather-resistant horn/strobe not installed above the FDC
  • FDC not visible due to landscaping or installed in wrong location (not according to plans) 
  • FDC missing Knox locking plugs
  • Riser room door not labeled (Riser Room or Fire Sprinkler)
  • System is not monitored by an approved fire alarm system/monitoring service
  • Signage missing (inspector test, main drain, etc.)
  • Extra sprinkler heads and wrench not in the cabinet
  • Above ground paperwork not provided by the contractor and systems not tagged with installation tags

6.  Automatic Fire Alarm System

  • System is not monitored by an approved monitoring agency
  • Not provided with the required communication lines; presently two (2) phone lines with at least one solely dedicated to the fire alarm panel
  • Plans not on site
  • Circuit breaker for the fire alarm control panel (FACP) is not locked and not marked; breaker location not listed inside the FACP cover
  • Batteries not dated
  • Smoke detector not installed above the FACP or not at correct height/location
  • FACP room not labeled
  • Horn and strobes are not visible or do not meet installation requirements
  • Horn/strobe and/or pull station devices are missing or not installed according to approved plans
  • Devices not working
  • Single-action pull stations not provided with protective covers or pull stations in public areas subject to tampering not provided with protective covers
  • Tamper and other supervisory functions not working
  • Flow switches not working or set outside the acceptable time delay of 35 to 45 seconds
  • Flow switches not installed properly at sectional valves for each floor/area
  • Duct detectors not assigned to Supervisory notification in fully sprinklered buildings (in non-sprinklered buildings duct detectors must sound a fire alarm throughout the building)
  • Zones are not set up correctly or not reporting to FACP correctly
  • Troubles and Supervisory signals not reporting
  • FACP or system is not UL listed
  • Company performing installation work is not licensed by the State of Tennessee for such work

7.  Extinguisher and Commercial Hood Systems

  • Not enough extinguishers
  • Extinguishers are not serviced by licensed fire extinguisher contractor
  • Wrong type of extinguisher for application
  • Not mounted properly or at correct height
  • Hood system not connected to fire alarm system where required
  • Hood system not covering cooking equipment properly
  • Exhaust fails to continue running when hood system activates (and makeup air fails to shut down)

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Most Common Hazards by Occupancy


Includes such buildings or parts used for movie theaters, concert halls, theaters, night clubs, restaurants, bars, community halls, dance halls, churches, etc.

Blocked exits Exit sign missing or not working
Doors locked during hours of occupancy Overcrowded/no occupant load signage
Aisles not maintained Fire extinguishers not serviced
Use of extension cords as permanent wiring Decorations are not flame retardant
Panic hardware not maintained/poor working order  Emergency lighting missing/not working
Fire alarm test records not available Commercial cooking system records not maintained
Deadbolts on exit doors


 Business and Mercantile

Buildings or parts of buildings used for offices or professional services are considered "Business" and may include banks, civic buildings, professional services (architects, attorneys, dentists, physicians, etc.), barber and beauty shops, etc.

Buildings used for the display or sale of merchandise are generally called "Mercantile" and include department stores, drug stores, markets, retail or wholesale stores, sales rooms, etc.

Blocked exits Exit sign missing or not working
Fire extinguishers not serviced  Use of extension cords as permanent wiring
Poor housekeeping in storage areas  Careless trash (wastepaper) disposal
Careless disposal of smoking material    Combustibles stored near heating sources
Improper storage of flammable liquids          Lack of maintenance/testing of fire protection systems
Blocked sprinkler heads



Applies to buildings or parts of buildings used for educational purposes through the 12th grade.

Blocked, locked, or chained exits  Blocked sprinkler heads
Exit lights not functioning Fire protection systems not maintained
Unsafe storage practices in chemistry labs  Flammable liquids improperly stored
Excessive combustible storage Lack of fire drills or documentation
Non-flame retardant curtains in auditorium   Use of extension cords as permanent wiring
Combustibles stored near heat sources Automotive spray paining in unapproved booths
Welding hazards Lack of emergency vehicle access to building



Occupancies classified as "Institutional" consists of many types of buildings and uses including residential board and care, assisted living, group homes, hospitals, nursing homes, child and adult daycares, and secured facilities such as jails and prisons.

Fire protection systems not maintained   Extension cords used as permanent wiring
Concealed smoking by patients Lack of maintenance of commercial cooking hoods
Exits blocked or locked Fire doors propped open
Excessive storage of combustibles Emergency generator not maintained
Combustibles too close to heating sources    Evacucation plan outdated, inadequate, or not posted



Codes enforced by the Franklin Fire Department in buildings classified as "Residential" do not include 1 and 2 family homes.  The types of buildings and occupancies that are inspected or are subject to the adopted fire and life safety codes include hotels/motels, apartment buildings, and similar uses.

Blocked exits  Fire extinguishers not serviced or missing
Excessive storage in basement or corridors  Poor housekeeping
Missing or inoperative exit signs Accumulation of dryer lint/dust in laundry room 
Combustibles stored near heating equipment    Lack of/blocked fire department access
Penetrations in fire-rated walls Incomplete or missing evacuation plans
Stairway doors propped open Fire protection systems not maintained



Buildings or parts of buildings where assembling, disassembling, fabricating, finishing, manufacturing, packaging, repair, or processing operations occurs are classified as "Factory."  These facilities or uses are further considered as Low or Moderate Hazard occupancies. 

Fire protection system not     maintained  Type of raw materials/products not appropriate for fire protection systems
Extension cords in use as permanent wiring Exits locked or obstructed
Fire doors propped open                     Excessive storage of combustible materials



Buildings or parts of buildings may be classified as "Storage" as long as hazardous materials are not part of the storage.  Within the overall classification, there are two sub-categories of Low-hazard and Moderate-hazard.

Fire protection systems not adequate for materials stored     Exits obstructed
Fire protection systems not maintained Electrical/machinery hazards
Improper storage/disposal of oily rags Improper disposal of trash/waste
Aisles between storage/racks not maintained Sprinkler heads obstructed
Fire doors propped open


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