Fire Marshal's Office

Overview & Forms

The Community Risk Reduction Branch, often referred to as the Fire Marshal’s Office is also responsible for investigating fires. This includes conducting criminal investigations of arson fires, arresting those responsible for setting fires or committing crimes associated with fire, and presenting testimony in the appropriate court of law. The personnel assigned to this division are certified firefighters, fire inspectors, and fire investigators or arson investigators.

This Branch also performs daytime inspections of businesses and night inspections of nightclubs and bars to ensure the safety of the public. Along with the Emergency Operations Branch, they perform numerous public education programs and maintain all fire reports and records for the Waco Fire Department.

*Please note: all forms and permits requiring payment must be paid for at the Fiscal Management Services in City Hall.

Fire Final Inspection

The Final Fire Inspection must be conducted before the Inspection Services Certificate of Occupancy Inspection and is conducted for all new construction, alteration/addition, and new Certificates of Occupancies. Fire Final Inspection shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Must be requested by the General Contractor.
  • Completion of all phases of construction.
  • Fire lanes and fire hydrants.
  • Address placard.
  • Automatic or Manual Fire Alarm acceptance.
  • Kitchen Hood Suppression System acceptance.
  • Automatic Fire Sprinkler, Standpipe, and Fire Pump acceptance.
  • Knox Box with appropriate keys. A 3200 series is required for single-tenant occupancies, and a 4400 series is required for multiple-occupancy structures.
  • Elevator recall and shunt inspection. State elevator inspection must be conducted before the Fire Final.
  • Fire department access.
  • Emergency egress
  • Fire extinguisher placement. All extinguishers must have an acceptance tag.
  • Where applicable, a sign shall be affixed and readily visible on exit doors stating:
    • * The sign shall be in letters not less than 1 inch high on a contrasting background
  • All required signs must be in place. (Stair identification, emergency egress, electrical room, fire riser, fire alarm, and mechanical room, etc.).

Controlled Burn

The completed permit application with proof of payment from City of Waco Fiscal Management Services (at City Hall, Fourth Floor) for the permit should be taken or mailed to:

Waco Fire Marshal’s Office
1006 N. 25th Street
Waco, Texas 76707

Requirements for a Controlled Burn Permit

  • Burn must comply with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) rules and regulations.
  • Burning must take place only during daylight hours.
  • Fire must be attended at all times and be completely extinguished before leaving site unattended.
  • Site plan showing the burn location and the location and distances to any structures or right of ways must be submitted to the Fire Marshal’s Office.
  • Copy of liability insurance covering the activity must be submitted to the Fire Marshal’s Office.  (A minimum $1 million liability policy is required for the burn.)
  • Fire control plan must be submitted including water sources and plan for controlling and extinguishing the fire.
  • Available water source and/or other extinguishing methods and fire control plan must be adequate for the size fire and must be capable of controlling any fire that may burn out of the control area.
  • Burn must not be located near structures, endanger adjoining property or cause a nuisance to neighbors.
  • After review of all requirements, a written permit will be issued to the applicant by the Fire Marshal.
  • Written permit must be on site during the controlled burn and all safety instruction must be followed.

Please Note: If the Fire Department is required to respond to your controlled burn there will be a charge of $250 per hour per Fire Department Unit.

State Requirement Information

The Outdoor Burning Rule sets the following general requirements for allowable outdoor burning. They are designed to reduce the likelihood that burning will create a nuisance, cause a hazard, or harm the environment.

  1. Notify the Texas Forest Service before carrying out any prescribed or controlled burns that are intended for forest management.
  2. Burn only outside the corporate limits of a city of town, unless the incorporated city or town has an ordinance that permits burning and is consistent with Subchapter E of the Texas Clean Air Act (Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 382).
  3. Begin or continue burning only when the wind direction and other weather conditions are such that the smoke and other pollutants will not present a hazard to any pubic road, landing strip, or navigable water (for example, a lake, river, stream, or bay) or have an adverse effect on any off-site structure containing "sensitive receptors" (for example, a residence, business, farm building, or greenhouse).
  4. Post someone to flag traffic if at any time the burning causes or may tend to cause smoke to blow onto or across a road or highway.
  5. Keep fires downwind of or at least 300 feet away from any neighboring structure that contains sensitive receptors. This requirement may be waived only with the prior written approval of whoever owns or rents the adjacent property and either resides or conducts business there.
  6. Begin burning no earlier than one hour after sunrise, end it the same day and no later than one hour before sunset, and make sure that a responsible party is present while the burn is active and the fire is progressing. At the end of the burn, extinguish isolated residual fires or smoldering objects if the smoke they produce can be a nuisance or a traffic hazard. Don't start burning unless weather conditions are appropriate for smoke to dissipate (winds of at least 6 miles per hour; no temperature inversions) and for you to be able to control the fire (winds no faster than 23 miles per hour).
  7. Don't burn any electrical insulation, treated lumber, plastics, construction or demolition materials not made of wood, heavy oils, asphaltic materials, potentially explosive materials, chemical wastes, or items that contain natural or synthetic rubber.
  8. In addition to meeting these requirements, outdoor burning must not cause a nuisance condition or traffic hazard according to 30 TAC Sections 101.4 and 101.5. The authority to conduct burning under the Outdoor Burning Rule does not exempt or excuse any person responsible for the consequences, damages, or injuries resulting from the burning and does not exempt or excuse anyone from complying with all other applicable laws or ordinances, regulations, and orders of governmental entities having jurisdiction, even though the burning is otherwise conducted in compliance with this regulation.

Safety Tips

  • Cook Safely: Never leave a stove unattended. If you must leave the stove for any length of time, turn the burner off. Keep the pot handles turned inward. This prevents anyone from accidentally bumping the handles. Always keep children away from the stove. This will prevent a child from pulling a pot of scalding water on top of them.

  • Install Smoke Detectors: The best line of defense is a smoke detector. Smoke detectors are early warning devices especially during sleep. Install a detector on every floor. Install a detector outside every sleeping area and inside the sleeping area if you keep your doors shut. Batteries should be replaced twice a year. Every time you change you clocks, change your battery. Replace your smoke detector every 10 years.

  • Have a Planned Escape: Always have a plan when a fire does occur. Try to have 2 escape routes out of each room. Familiarize your family or guest of your exit plan. Then have everyone practice this plan. Once outside, everyone should meet at the same place. Try to practice your plan when every time you change your batteries in your smoke detector. Always crawl low and under the smoke when escaping. Feel the door with the back to the hand. If the door is hot, use another way out. If the door is not hot, then open door slowly and check for smoke and/or fire.

  • Be Careful when Smoking: Don't smoke in bed or when your drowsy. Do not empty your cigarettes into a trash can. Use a deep non-tip ashtray. Always soak the butts before dumping them. Do not discard your butts out of your moving vehicles. In the right conditions, they can cause grass or brush fires.

  • Lighter and Matches: Always keep lighters and matches out of reach of children and in a locked area. Children should always tell an adult if they discover matches or lighters. Also, children need to tell an adult if they see another child playing with matches.

  • Electrical Safety: Keep extension cords to a minimum. Do not run extension cords across areas of travel such as doorways or under rugs. Replace cracked or frayed cords. Do not replace a fuse with a larger one if it has blown. Do not allow furniture to be placed on top of cords. Use child safety covers to cover unused outlets. This will prevent a child from sticking an object or their finger in the outlet.

  • Space Heaters and Fire Places: Keep objects at least 3 feet from the heaters or fire places. Always have your fire places and furnaces inspected once a year by a professional. Always keep a grill guard around your heaters. Keep children away from the fire places and heaters. Never get to close to the heaters or fire places with your clothing, especially if the clothing is flammable.

Smoke Alarms

  • How effective are smoke alarms?
    Residential fire deaths have decreased steadily as the number of homes with smoke alarms has increased. Reports from the National Fire Protection Association on residential fire deaths show that people have nearly a 50 percent better chance of surviving a fire if their home has the recommended number of smoke alarms.

  • Should I replace my smoke alarms?
    Smoke AlarmsSmoke alarms that are 10 years old are near the end of their service life and should be replaced. A smoke alarm monitors the air 24 hours a day. At the end of 10 years, it has gone through over 3.5 million monitoring cycles. After this much use, components may become less reliable. This means that as the alarm gets older, the potential of failing to detect a fire increases. Replacing them after 10 years reduces this possibility.

  • My alarms are wired into my electrical system. Do I need to replace them as often as battery-operated alarms?
    Yes. Both types of alarms are equally affected by age.

  • How many alarms should I have?
    The average-sized home or apartment needs more than one smoke alarms. The exact number depends on the number of levels in the home and the number of bedrooms. Local building codes require a minimum of one alarm on each level of the home, one alarm outside the bedroom area, and one in each bedroom. The alarm that is placed outside of the bedroom area should be installed in a place where it can be heard at night through a closed bedroom door.

  • Is there more than one type of smoke alarm, and what is the difference?
    There are two type of smoke alarms for homes. One type is called an ionization alarm because it monitors "ions," or electrically charged particles. Smoke particles entering the sensing chamber change the electrical balance of the air. The alarm's horn will sound when the change in electrical balance reaches a preset level. The other type of alarm is called photoelectric because its sensing chamber uses a beam of light and a light sensor. Smoke particles entering the chamber change the amount of light that reaches the light sensor. The alarm sounds when the smoke density reaches a preset level.

  • Is one type better than the other?
    The ionization alarm responds faster to small smoke particles, while the photoelectric responds faster to large smoke particles. As a rule of thumb, fast-flaming fires produce more small smoke particles and smoldering fires produce more large particles. Thus, the response time of the two type of alarms will vary, depending on the mix of small and large smoke particles in the fire. But test results show that the differences in response time are small enough that both types provide enough time to escape.

  • What is more important, the type of alarm or the number?
    The number of alarms is more important than the type. Installing several smoke alarms of each type will provide better coverage in the extreme cases of long-term smoldering or fast-flaming fires. But since both types respond in time for you to escape, the most important thing is to install enough alarms in the proper locations. Alarms are available with both types of sensors in the same unit, but they are more expensive than models with a single sensor. If the choice is between having only one of each type or having more of the same type, more alarms is the better choice.

  • My alarm goes off when I cook. How can I stop this?
    Smoke alarms are designed to be very sensitive so they will alert occupants to a fire in time for them to escape. If a alarm regularly responds to smoke from cooking, there are several options for handling this problem. One way is to replace the alarm with one that has a button that silences it for a few minutes. Another way is to move the alarm farther away, giving the smoke a chance to dissipate. Moving a ceiling-mounted alarm to a wall can also reduce nuisance alarms. However, this will also make it a little slower to respond to a real fire. If the alarm is the ionization type, another option is to replace it with a photoelectric. This alarm is less sensitive to smaller smoke particles and thus is less affected by cooking smoke.

  • How can I test my alarm?
    Every smoke alarm comes with a test button. We recommend that people test their alarms regularly, at least once a month.

  • Should I use real smoke to test my alarms?
    This is not recommended because the burning objects used to create the smoke might cause a fire. Some stores sell pressurized cans of simulated smoke for this purpose. When using this product, follow the operating instructions and do not get the can too close to the alarm. This prevents the smoke from coating the alarm's sensing chamber, which can make the alarm inoperable.

  • How important is it to clean my alarm?
    Cleaning is easy. Just vacuum the alarm at least once a year. This will keep the openings to the sensing chamber free of dust, residue from cooking vapors and insects.

  • What about changing batteries?
    Smoke alarm batteries should last at least one year under normal conditions. The biggest reason that smoke alarms don't work is because people remove the batteries, (e.g., to stop the low battery signal or a nuisance alarm) and forget to replace them. When a battery reaches the end of its service life, the alarm will give a short beep every minute or so. It is easy to remove the battery and then forget to replace it. The best way to prevent this is to replace batteries at the same time each year before the low battery signal begins.

Exit Drills

Go to a safe place (preferably prearranged) far enough away from the building in case of collapse or explosion and perform a head count of those who were in the building with you. If someone is missing, it is critically important that you tell arriving firefighters. Tell them who and how many people are missing and where they were last seen.

Things You Will Need:

  • Explain to your child what you're going to teach him. Tell him it's similar to fire drills in school, and that it's just as important to have fire drills at home.
  • Draw a simple diagram of your house showing all windows and doors, go over it carefully with your entire family.
  • Find two escape routes for every room. Take the child to each room and ask them how they would escape if there were a fire.
  • Practice opening windows, taking off screens and using ladders (if on a second story). Children must be able to open windows and window locks and use collapsible ladders if on a second story.
  • Make sure there are no security bars on bedroom windows - or if there are, that they can be opened and closed easily. You may even want to remove bars from your child's room.
  • Sleep with bedroom doors closed, and teach your child that if the smoke alarm goes off, they should feel the door with the back of their hand before opening it.
  • Teach your child to place the back of their hand on the door to check for heat, starting at the bottom and working up. Then they should place the back of their hand on the doorknob; if there's any heat outside the door, they should be able to feel it.
  • Teach your child to crack open the door - if they don't feel heat, they should stay low and check for smoke. If smoke is present, they should use the other way out.
  • Choose a place for family members to reconvene outside.
  • Tell your child that once they have escaped, they must not go back in the house for any reason until firefighters have deemed the house safe for re-entry.

Tips and Warnings:

  • Lower your child down from a window before escaping yourself. They may be too scared to escape if you go first and then motion for him to come down.
  • Make sure smoke alarms are mounted inside each bedroom in your home, as well as in the hallway outside the bedrooms.
  • Test your smoke detectors regularly.
  • If a smoke alarm goes off, you literally have seconds to respond. There is absolutely no time to gather possessions, pets and possibly even each other. Your best response is to leave your home immediately, gather at your prearranged meeting place and call 911 from a neighbor's home.
  • Never go back into the house once you've escaped from a fire.

Escape from Fire Flyer(PDF, 619KB)

Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguisher

The discovery of fire not only taught humans the way of cooking but also introduced irony in every human life. Fire is a basic necessity for survival, yet it is also the deadliest and unpredictable foe. Since the early 1800's man has looked for ways to protect home and hearth from fire related disasters and injury. It was at this time that the first fire extinguisher was patented, it was more of an explosive device that needed to be triggered by fuse to scatter the flame retarding liquid. The modern and portable ones we use were patented in 1818 to British Captain George William Manby.

A fire has three elements: heat, oxygen and fuel. The heat starts it all bringing any material to the point of igniting; a fuel source supports the burning, while the oxygen sustains the fire for spreading and doing great’s damage.

Since that time fire extinguishers are active safety devices that are required in the home, work place, restaurants mostly all places susceptible to fire. These are a person's first line of defense in containing fire. There are 5 types (classes) of fire extinguishers which are used for a particular type of fires. These are indicated on the cylinder as picture/labeling in the new generation extinguishers or as geometrical and letter designation in older cylinder versions.

Choosing fire extinguishers according to its usage is best determined by the classifications.

Type 'A'

These fires are started when easily ignitable materials have reached their igniting temperature. These materials can be cloth, boxes, paper, plastics and trash.

Type 'B'

These fires usually involve liquids that are highly flammable and spread easily. These fires are also started by gas, paint, petrol viscous yet highly flammable too. This fire type may also be started with gases that are easily ignited by heat, such as propane and butane.

Type 'C'

This type of fire is started within an appliance, electric equipment, appliance motors and transformers. A type 'C' fire can easily be put out by cutting its power source which abruptly changes its type of fire.

Type 'D'

A type 'D' fire source is combustible metals such as calcium, lithium, magnesium and its alloys, phosphorus and titanium among the more known chemical elements. These chemicals when heated and oxidation present causes sparks that may turn into fast spreading flames.

Type 'K'

This type of fire concerns burning of cooking fats and grease.

The classification of fire is a guide on what kind of fire extinguisher is used in varying situations. There are several fire retardant components used for several types of fire and pose dangerous to other fire types. In the following pages are lists of the different kinds of extinguishers available in the market today.

In determining such, the usage of a particular type of extinguisher is guaranteed to work. This also prevents the misuse and erroneous use of an extinguisher type which would only feed the fire.

How to Use a Fire-Extinguisher

Having to use a fire-extinguisher is simple in and of itself; however, the situation that requires its use can make a simple thing difficult of course. When it come to using a fire-extinguisher just remember the acronym P.A.S.S. to help make sure you use it properly. P.A.S.S. stands for Pull Aim Squeeze Sweep. You certainly learned it at one time or another in school. Once learned it is hard to forget, but, a simple review is always good as with anything learned. To Operate a fire-extinguisher properly:

Pull- The first step is to pull the pin (it usually has the inspection tag attached to it) that prevents the handle from being squeezed.

Aim- The second step is to aim the spray nozzle, or if attached the hose nozzle, at the fire. Aim low at the base of the fire.

Squeeze- The third step is to squeeze the handle to spray the contents. Remember a standard fire-extinguisher has less than 30 seconds of spray time.

Sweep- The final step is to sweep back and forth as you spray the base of the fire.

A fire extinguisher is only to be used for small fires. As a rule call 911 or have someone call before you attempt to put out a fire. Even if you manage to put out a small fire yourself call the fire department to have them come check it out.

Carbon Monoxide

Invisible Killer: The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Each year in America, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning claims more than 200 lives and sends another 10,000 people to hospital emergency rooms. The Fargo Fire Department would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from deadly carbon monoxide fumes.

Understanding the Risk

What is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.

  • Where does carbon monoxide come from?
    CO gas can come from several sources: gas or oil-fired appliances, charcoal grills, wood-burning furnaces or fireplaces and motor vehicles.

  • Who is at risk?
    Everyone is at risk for CO poisoning. Medical experts believe that unborn babies, infants, children, senior citizens and people with heart or lung problems are at even greater risk for CO poisoning.

  • What actions do I take if my carbon monoxide alarm goes off?
    What you need to do if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off depends on whether anyone is feeling ill or not. What you need to do if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off depends on whether anyone is feeling ill or not.

    If no one is feeling ill:

    1. Silence the alarm.
    2. Turn off all appliances and sources of combustion (i.e. furnace and fireplace).
    3. Ventilate the house with fresh air by opening doors and windows.
    4. Call a qualified professional to investigate the source of the possible CO buildup.

    If illness is a factor:

    1. Evacuate all occupants immediately.
    2. Determine how many occupants are ill and determine their symptoms.
    3. Call 911 and when relaying information to the dispatcher, include the number of people feeling ill.
    4. Do not re-enter the home without the approval of a fire department representative.
    5. Call a qualified professional to repair the source of the CO leak.

    Protect yourself and your family from CO poisoning

    • Install at least one UL (Underwriters Laboratories)-listed carbon monoxide alarm with an audible warning signal near the sleeping areas and outside individual bedrooms. Carbon monoxide alarms measure levels of CO over time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms. It is very possible that you may not be experiencing symptoms when you hear the alarm. This does not mean that CO is not present.
    • Have a qualified professional check all fuel-burning appliances, furnaces, venting and chimney systems at least once a year.
    • Never use your range or oven to help heat your home, and never use a charcoal grill or hibachi in your home or garage.
    • Never keep a car running in a garage. Even if the garage doors are open, normal circulation will not provide enough fresh air to reliably prevent a dangerous buildup of CO.
    • When purchasing an existing home, have a qualified technician evaluate the integrity of the heating and cooling systems, as well as the sealed spaces between the garage and house. The presence of a carbon monoxide alarm in your home can save your life in the event of CO buildup.