State Mandated Inspection of Buildings with 3 or more Dwelling Units
Most fire service resources are designed and dedicated to responding to events after they have occurred to minimize any potential destruction. A small portion of our resources are directed at preventing problems from occurring. It is much better to prevent the damage from occurring than to respond to the damage after it has occurred.
Any act or omission that is predictable is preventable. We can predict that fire will occur more in residential settings than in any other type of occupancy. The number of fires in non-owner-occupied residential structures tends to be high. Fires in multi-family residential structures, such as apartments, represent a high life hazard due to the large number of people. California passed legislation requiring local fire authorities to conduct annual inspections of multi-family residential structures including apartments, hotels, motels and lodging houses to prevent fires in an effort to reduce loss of life and property. The intent of the Sonoma County Fire District is to inspect dwellings with 3 or more units, apartment buildings, hotels, and motels once yearly for basic fire safety features.
As these inspections are mandated by the state, we are therefore given the authority to recoup our costs to have staff conduct these inspections. Based on our recently adopted Fire Prevention fee schedule the cost for these will be $302 per parcel.
In 2018, SB1205 was passed based upon the tragic loss of life in the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. Thirty-six people lost their lives in a warehouse that was turned into an artist collective. It lacked proper inspection and enforcement to meet the basic fire and life safety regulations. SB1205 requires that all R-1, and multi-family dwelling units be inspected annually, and inspection numbers be reported to the agencies governing bodies.