The San Francisco Fire Department, as it relates to building permits, is responsible for ensuring that fire and life safety is provided and maintained in the buildings that fall under its jurisdiction. The scope of work that requires review by the Fire Department Plan Check Section includes: fire-rated construction; fire suppression systems of all types; fire alarm systems; mechanical smoke control systems; exiting (including exit signs and emergency lighting) and all high-rise construction (new and existing). Plans, including new work that triggers separate Fire Department permits (such as storage or use of hazardous materials, public assembly occupant loads, and high-pile storage), are routed to the Fire Department Plan Check Section to ensure compliance with the San Francisco Fire Code.
Some of the building uses which fall under the jurisdiction of the Fire Department Plan Check Section are listed as follows:
- All Assembly Occupancies (including restaurants and other gathering places for 50 or more occupants)
- All Educational Occupancies (including commercial day care facilities)
- All Hazardous Occupancies (including repair garages, body shops, fuel storage, and emergency generator installation)
- All Storage Occupancies where potential exists for high-piled storage as defined by Fire Code
- All Institutional Occupancies
- All High-rise building of all Occupancies
- Residential Occupancies, such as hotels, motels, lodging houses, residential care facilities, apartment houses, small-and Large-family day care homes, and R-1 artisan buildings (excluding minor residential repairs such as kitchen and bath remodeling and dry rot repair)
- Certified family-care homes, out-of-home placement facilities, halfway house, drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation facilities
- Tents, awnings, or other fabric enclosures used in connection with any occupancy
- All fire alarm and fire suppression systems
If you are doing construction to any of the above-mentioned occupancies or feel unsure as to whether the Fire Department has jurisdiction, please contact Fire Department Plan Check at:
San Francisco Fire Department, Plan Check
1660 Mission Street, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
NOTE: Over-the-counter plan checks will be done on any plan that the Fire Department deems can be completed within one (1) hour or less. Permit and/or Plan Applications that cannot be approved over-the-counter will be checked into the system and placed in queue for review.
For more detailed information on the Permit Application Process: Getting a City Permit (PDF).
Pre-Application Meeting Service
The purpose of this service is to answer specific questions regarding issues where the specific requirements of the fire code and/or building code cannot be met and an equivalency is proposed; and/or to provide interpretations of specific code sections. These meetings allow for overview and comment of specific design issues by the Fire Department and/or the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) prior to application for a permit, or prior to the submittal of addenda to a Site Permit.
Fire Department Pre-Application Meeting Procedures:
Note: Specific questions must be provided in writing prior to scheduling of meeting with plans that accurately reflect the proposed project.
Request for Water Flow
Information requests for hydrant water flow data are required for most fire sprinkler permit applications. A Request for Water Flow Information form must be submitted along with the appropriate fees for current water flow information contained in our records. If the water flow records are outdated, then a new 'field' flow for the subject property must be performed to ensure that an accurate reading is used for required hydraulic calculations for fire sprinkler submittals. Please see attached form for the current fee schedule.
Request for Water Flow Information Form (9/5/15)
Cost Schedule of Building Valuation Data
This Department of Building Inspection document is used in calculating a building's valuation for Building Permits in the City and County of San Francisco. The portion of this data that relates to fire sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems represents the valuation at the completion of all construction work authorized by a building permit. This valuation directly relates to the inspection and plan review fees collected by the fire department. An accurate estimate of job valuation is important to ensure that proper fees and inspection costs are collected. Contact the Department of Building Inspection to obtain a copy of the Cost Schedule of Building Valuation Data.
SF Fire Department Administrative Bulletins
These bulletins are found in the SF Fire Code Appendix VI-L provides information, interpretations, and checklists to clarify the San Francisco Fire Department enforcement practices and procedures. All material contained in this Appendix is published for the benefit of the public to help promote expeditious plan review and applicable Code compliance.
View an index and links to SFFD Administrative Bulletins
SF Building Department Administrative Bulletins
These documents are used to assist the public and staff to provide consistent policies and procedures relating to the permit application process. Many of the Administrative Bulletins provide details on the procedures to be used for the application and case-by-case review of requests for approval of equivalencies, when work proposed which does not strictly comply with the provisions of the 2010 San Francisco Building, Electrical, Mechanical, or Plumbing Codes. Requests for approval of modifications or alternates will be considered by the Department of Building Inspection and the Fire Department (when applicable) on a case-by-case basis when reasonable equivalency is proposed.
View an index and links to DBI Administrative Bulletins
Over-the-Counter Plan Review Service
This is one of the types of permits provided by the San Francisco Permit Center which allows the applicant to hand-carry his/her permit application to each of the required review stations and get an immediate review. This would involve review at all the necessary stations located on the 5th floor of the San Francisco Permit Center. If a permit and/or plan application requires Fire Department review, the applicant must take their permit and/or plan application to the Fire counter located on the 5th floor. At that time the Fire Plan Checker will review the permit and/or plan application and determine if it can be approved over-the-counter. Complex plans or plans too voluminous for an over-the-counter plan review will be checked for completeness and accepted for intake. Then the plans will be assigned to a Fire Plan Checker at a later date for a detailed review.
NOTE: Plans will be reviewed over-the-counter if they meet SFFD plan submittal guidelines and code requirements. These plans are limited to those that can be completed within 1 hour depending on customer backup and the Fire Plan Checkers' personal comfort with the plan. Some plans will require reference of past plans or history of the project. Examples of plans that can be reviewed over-the-counter are as follows:
- Demolitions- For tenant improvements and buildings or structures
- Small commercial tenant improvement for architecture
- Small residential remodels and stair replacement
- Awnings, canopies, tents and other fabric enclosures
- Fire alarm systems:
- Alterations to existing fire alarm systems
• Multiple floors limited to relocates and minor additions
• Tenant improvements for high-rise buildings - limited to a single floor
- New Work
• R-1/R-2 occupancies 4 stories or less and 6 or less units
• Replacement systems - limited to a single floor (base system must be pre-approved and reference plans must be provided, including
approved plan of action)
• Detection for small pre-action sprinklers or gaseous suppression systems
• Other occupancies on a case by case basis; in general, small systems may be accepted.
- Sprinklers system:
- Alterations to existing sprinkler systems
• Multiple floors limited to relocates and minor additions
- New Work
• New systems for R-3 occupancies
• New systems for R-1 occupancies ground floor only (i.e. storage, garage).
• Retrofit for high-rise buildings--- limited to a single floor
• Small Pre-action systems (1200 sq. ft. or less)
• Other occupancies limited based on hazard and square footage-in general, small buildings with light or ordinary hazard classifications. We reserve the right to refuse acceptance into program.
- Hood and duct fire suppression systems that are reviewable within 1 hour.
- Administrative changes to plan history or small as-built drawings.
Occupancies & Work Exempt From Review by the SFFD
Occupancies and work exempt from review by the San Francisco Fire Department includes:
- State of California and Federal Buildings
- One and two unit residential buildings (R3-Occupancy)*
* These occupancies are only reviewed for fire sprinklers, fire alarms and Fire Department access requirements.
Plan Check Expedited Review Service and Overtime Request Agreement
This is required whenever an expedited review of a Permit Application or Plan is requested by an applicant. Normally, an expedited review of plans is completed within seven (7) days after receiving the completed request agreement. At the end of the review, either a plan approval or plan review comments will be generated. Requests for expedited reviews must be submitted using the Plan Check WDO Contract below. The minimum charge for an expedited review is four (4) hours at the current approved overtime rate, which is posted on the form.
Plan Check WDO Contract - Service and Overtime Request Agreement Form (PDF)