FAQ Index

    Questings

    Questions about school safety planning and emergency preparedness

    Where can I find information about crisis planning?

    Information can be found in several locations. OSFM has a list on our "I am a School Official" page. Sources include National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Illinois Terrorism Task Force (ITTF), Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM)
     

    What types of door locks are acceptable for classroom doors?

    Per Code Requirements currently adopted by ISBE and OSFM, acceptable door locks are those that only require 1 motion to unlock and open a door to exit, without using keys, tools, or special knowledge. For more information see "Fire Marshal Guidance on the Locking of Doors in Schools" on the "I am a School Official" page.

     

     

    Questions about Qualified Fire Official training

    I am already a Qualified Fire Official, am I required to take refresher training for School Inspections?

    At this time refresher training is not required, BUT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!  Each year updates are added to the Health and Life Safety School Glossary and inspection checklists. You need to be up to date. Visit our "I am a School Official" page periodically for upcoming classes.


     

    Why can't I just walk along and concur with the ROE inspector and use a copy of the report he files?

    The purpose of the Fire Service inspection is to provide an unbiased review of the conditions of the school being inspected. ROE inspectors and Fire Service inspectors have different backgrounds and different strengths. It is the combination, not the correlation of the 2 disciplines that make for a successful inspection. It's ok to disagree sometimes, but if a Fire Service Professional determines it is a violation, then it should be written and included on the checklist.

     

    I am a school or ROE representative, can I attend training classes with OSFM?

    While not a requirement, OSFM is always happy to have representatives from Schools and ROE attend our classes, as constructive discussion enhances the learning experience for the candidates attending.

     

    Who provides training for local fire personnel interested in becoming Qualified Fire Officials?

    Only OSFM provides the training that "qualifies" fire department or fire protection district personnel to perform these inspections. OSFM also provides this same training to their own inspectors. Visit our "I am a School Official" page periodically for upcoming classes.


     

    Must OSFM inspectors and local Qualified Fire Officials always have an ROE staff in attendance?

    Inspections do not have to be performed with ROE staff, but every effort is made to coordinate inspections with ROE staff. Based on manpower resources and availability, OSFM and local Qualified Fire Officials are encouraged to schedule inspections with ROE staff in attendance, but it is not mandatory.

     

    Questions about Private School inspections

    What code is applicable in Private Schools?

    NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, 2000 Edition, Chapters 14 and 15, New or Existing Educational Occupancies. These chapters have reference to other 'Core' chapters in NFPA 101 for requirements.

    What are responsibilities of Private School Administrators in complying with the School Safety Drill Act, 105 ILCS 128?

    School Safety Drill Act, 105 ILCS 128 et al. ("Act") has the express purpose of establishing "minimum requirements and standards for schools to follow when conducting school safety drills and reviewing school emergency and crisis response plans and to encourage schools and first responders to work together for the safety of children." As detailed in the Act, "All" Illinois schools are required to institute various safety drills and engage in an annual review of the school's safety preparedness.  Visit our "Private School Information" page for more information.

     

    What is the Private School Annual Compliance Report?

    Upon conclusion of your school's annual review, a 'Private School Annual Review Compliance Report' must be completed and submitted to the OSFM once per calendar year.

    This report is available in the "Private School Information" area above and can be filled out, saved, and submitted to OSFM directly from the webpage.

     

    Questions about Public School Inspections

    Does the Office of the State Fire Marshal enforce the Life Safety Code in public school buildings?

    No. By law, the Office of the State Fire Marshal cannot enforce the OSFM-adopted NFPA Life Safety Code in Illinois' public elementary or secondary schools. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) maintains jurisdiction within these school buildings and the ISBE has adopted specific fire safety rules and regulations applicable to public schools. Illinois law now requires an annual fire safety inspection of all public schools by either the OSFM or the local fire department but that inspection must be conducted by applying the ISBE rules and not the OSFM's adopted Life Safety Code or any locally adopted regulations.
     

    What code is applicable in Public Schools?

    The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) maintains jurisdiction within these school buildings and the ISBE, in conjunction with the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has adopted specific fire safety rules and regulations applicable to public schools, which are updated every year.  This information is found in the Health and Life Safety School Glossary.
     

    Why are school inspections required in Illinois?

    It was the tragic fire at the Our Lady of the Angels school in 1958 that led to the establishment of the Code drafting committee for the first Health/Life Safety Code. A 2003 amendment to an Illinois State statute authorizes the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) or a "qualified fire official to whom OSFM has delegated his or her authority" to conduct safety checks.105 ILCS 5/2-3.1241 IL Admin Code Part 111. After the rule was passed, ISBE and OSFM collaborated to review the existing inspection Checklist and Glossary and to provide training for ISBE administrators, OSFM inspectors and fire service inspectors.
     

    Who is mandated to conduct school inspections?

    In accordance with state statute and Illinois administrative code, inspectors of the Office of the State Fire Marshal or local inspectors are authorized to conduct annual fire safety inspections in Illinois public school buildings. If the local fire department that has fire jurisdiction over the school(s) does not have the staffing or expertise to perform these inspections, OSFM inspectors will perform this inspection.
     

    What are the approved forms I am required to submit?

    On our website you will find 2 forms approved by ISBE for submittal to the OSFM Portal. Qualified Fire Officials are required to submit either of these 2 approved forms. 

    • Fire Service Inspection Checklist; or
    • ROE Checklist – (This is not the report used by the ROE inspector to file with his office)

    Once these forms are completed, you can download them to the portal 

    Where can I get the current and up to date Health and Life Safety Glossary and approved Public School Checklist forms?

    The correct and updated Public School Checklist forms and Glossary for the current school year are available on our website and updated annually, we try to update by August 1. Each year changes and updates to the code are made and if you are using an outdated form or glossary you are missing important information. These updated forms can be found on our web site.

    How do I know I am using the correct checklist form and glossary?

    Each checklist has a date in the lower right hand corner of each page that shows when it was updated. The Glossary has a Fiscal year and School year date on the cover page. These documents are updated over each summer. We try to have the updated versions on the OSFM website by August 1 of each year
     

    Can I submit my Fire Department inspection form, or, a copy of the form sent to ISBE by the ROE, to the OSFM Portal?

    No, only one of the 2 forms approved by ISBE can be submitted to the OSFM Portal for acceptance. Qualified Fire Officials using a worksheet while conducting the inspection may or may not include this worksheet with their submittal, but one of the 2 approved forms must also be completed and submitted.
     

    How can I find out about the changes in the school year glossary from year to year?

    Go to the "I am a School Official" page and look for the appropriate school years under "Health Life Safety Updates PowerPoint (PPT)."   These contain brief comparison of the changes in the glossary.

     

    Questions about submitting reports to the Office of the State Fire Marshal

    Where do I send my completed reports?

    Fire Departments are required to send their completed inspection reports to appropriate ROE or ISC for the schools being inspected, AND to the Office of the State Fire Marshal using the portal provided.
     

    Why did you return my inspection?

    We have received several forms which are not the approved Public School Checklist forms to be used as part of this program. Internal FD forms are not acceptable.

    In accordance with Title 41 Illinois Administrative Code Part 111.90(b) the A: Qualified Fire Official shall use a Public School Checklist. Fire Departments have the option of using either the Fire Department Checklist or the Roe Checklist which can be found on the "I am a School Official" page. 

    Why is it taking me so long to register?

    The registration process should not take more than 5 minutes. If you are experiencing problems please contact our Administrative Assistant for assistance at 217-785-4714 or Melinda.Reynolds@illinois.gov

    The street address is correct but the Zip Codes are all wrong.

    Please make a note of the correct Zip Code in the comments section and we will fix those accordingly.

    I can't find the address I need.

    We are aware of several issues with this process and while the inspector can manually enter the address we would like to avoid this if possible as it may result in further problems. The database was created from ISBE and ROE information, and all their schools on their list are in the database. However we are aware of some schools being inspected by your departments that are not on their list. After you create the address please make a note of this new addition in the comments section so that our Office Specialist can verify and format the address to fit the database.

    How do I use the SEARCH function of the Portal?

    The Mobile Eyes database has some search limitations based on its setup. For example,

    • 1st Street vs First Street
    • W. vs West

    Mobile-Eyes does not use abbreviations. We have found that the easiest way to find an address is to type in the Street number first and click on the Find Matches button. This will populate a list of addresses in our system that have a variation of the street number you entered. For example, 500 will get 1500, 5001, 25003 etc. If the list is long you can then narrow the search down by entering the street name and clicking Find Matches again.

    For Example, if the address is 500 West Bryn Mawr Avenue, just type in Bryn in the street name box. This will populate a much shorter list of addresses in our system with both 500 and Bryn in the address making it easier for you to select the address you need.

    If there are problems please contact our Administrative Assistant for assistance at 217-785-4714 or Melinda.Reynolds@illinois.gov

    Questions about building systems and protection devices

    How can I determine the occupant load of an assembly area?

    The determination of the occupancy load and number of exits required from an assembly occupancy is a multi-step process that must be conducted in accordance with Life Safety Code requirements. There are several variables including size of the area, number of exits, presence of stairs, presence of fire protection systems, etc. Please contact the Regional Office of Education for assistance.
     

    How often are sprinkler systems required to be tested?

    NFPA Standard #25 Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems establishes testing and maintenance schedules for various system components (i.e., valves, alarm devices, sprinklers heads, etc.). There is not one singular answer to the question of how often sprinkler systems or their components must be tested. NFPA 25 sets varying requirements based upon the type of sprinkler system and types of components and appurtenances that are present. By statute, those who inspect and maintain automatic sprinkler systems (other than weekly or monthly inspection and testing of control valves and gauges) must be OSFM-licensed fire sprinkler contractors.
     

    How often are fire alarm systems required to be tested?

    NFPA Standard #72 National Fire Alarm Code establishes testing and maintenance schedules for various fire alarm system components. There is not one singular answer to the question of how often fire alarm systems or their components must be tested. NFPA 72 sets varying requirements based upon the type of fire alarm system and types of components and appurtenances that are present. The Office of the State Fire Marshal recommends that those responsible for maintaining or testing fire alarm systems be thoroughly familiar with NFPA 72. Furthermore, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation oversees rules that require those who maintain fire alarm systems to be licensed by that agency.
     

    Are companies who test or maintain fire extinguishers required to be licensed by the State of Illinois

    Yes. The Fire Equipment Distributor and Employee Regulation Act requires that any person, company or corporation which services, recharges, hydro tests, inspects, installs, maintains, alters, repairs, replaces, or services fire extinguishing devices or systems, other than water sprinkler systems be licensed by the Office of the State Fire Marshal. The rules governing the licensing of portable fire extinguisher contractors are found within 41 Ill. Adm. Code. It should also be realized that the Act and the subsequently developed Part 250 rules also regulate the design, installation and testing of engineered and pre-engineered fire suppression systems. Fire equipment contractor regulation is handled by the OSFM's Division of Fire Prevention and specific questions should be directed to that Division. It should also be noted that the Fire Equipment Distributor and Employee Regulation Act does not apply to water sprinkler systems. Water sprinkler system design and installation is regulated by the OSFM, but under the Fire Sprinkler Contractor Licensing Act.
     

    Must my kitchen cooking surface fire suppression system comply with U.L.300?

    NFPA standards require all newly installed cooking surface fire suppression systems needing to be tested and listed in accordance with UL 300. Furthermore, the rules require that existing cooking surface fire suppression systems be brought into compliance with UL 300 by January 1, 2010. 

    To date, all of the systems listed by UL in accordance with the UL 300 requirements have been wet-chemical systems. There are currently no dry chemical systems that are compliant with UL 300 listing criteria. Therefore, all new installations of systems for the protection of commercial kitchen cooking equipment must be wet-chemical systems and existing dry chemical suppression systems must be replaced by UL 300 compliant wet chemical systems by January 1, 2010 

    What is a 'K" extinguisher and is it required in the school kitchen?

    NFPA 10 Portable Fire Extinguishers requires a Class "K" rated portable fire extinguisher where grease is used for cooking. Cooking fires now often involve low cholesterol vegetable shortening, which has more severe burning characteristics than animal fats as well as the use of higher energy efficiency appliances, which are better insulated and retain heat that increases difficulty of extinguishment by dry chemical products. Class K fire extinguishers required in new installations since 1998, and recommended by the OSFM for all kitchen environments, contain wet chemical extinguishing agents that have been proven more effective on cooking oil fires.

     Still Have Questions?

    If there are problems please call 217-785-4714 or send an email to Melinda.Reynolds@illinois.gov