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How Fire Prevention helps the City

Last updated: 5/31/16

How Fire Prevention helps the City

Learn about how our department works to prevent fires and keep Boston residents safe.

Fire prevention may be more important than firefighting. We’re trained to spot and correct unsafe conditions before they lead to fires. We enforce local and state fire codes to make sure Boston residents and business owners are safe.

We manage fire prevention activities throughout the City. In our work, we maintain records, investigate fires, educate the public on fire safety, and handle the technical side of fire prevention. This includes:

  • reviewing plans
  • granting permits
  • inspecting buildings, and
  • issuing and enforcing code violations.

We also conduct smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inspections when you sell or transfer your property. Request an inspection.


You need approval from the Fire Department before you can get a certificate of occupancy for your residential or business property. You'll work with an inspector from Inspectional Services and an inspector from the unit to get your information for certification. Learn more about our role in occupancy permits.


The chemist helps businesses stay safe and compliant with fire code. Businesses need to make sure their interior decor doesn't pose a fire hazard. Our chemist tests materials and interior finishes for flammability. Learn more about the chemist’s work.


The unit inspects construction sites makes sure a company is meeting Fire codes and standards. In its work, the unit reviews permits and standpipes at the site. Find out more about construction guidelines and applications.

Exhaust vent cleaning and inspection

The Boston Fire Department along with Inspectional services and the Health Department has established a criteria of conditions for Exhaust Vent Cleaners and Inspectors who wish to perform work in the City of Boston. Learn more about hood exhaust cleaning and inspection.


The unit reviews and inspects interior fire alarm systems for all buildings in the City. This includes new construction, renovated buildings, or if changes are made to an existing system. Learn more about Fire Alarm System permitting.


Fire Protection Engineers look at plans for new fire department and hydrant locations. They also review building and fire codes for other projects, like:

  • smoke control plans
  • sprinkler system plans
  • fire suppression plans
  • place of assembly plans, and
  • any other plans related to fire safety.


Most residential property owners need to inspect their smoke and carbon monoxide alarm system before they can sell their property. Our general inspectors perform the inspections, and also review complaints about potential violations of the law. Request a smoke and carbon monoxide inspection.

Fire investigative unit

Keegan the Fire Dog
The unit works in Fire Prevention under the authority of the City of Boston Fire Marshal. The members of this unit investigate and determine the origin and cause of fires. They also document the scene with photographs.

The unit has a K-9 named Keegan. Keegan is a certified accelerant detection canine. He is capable of determining the presence of ignitable liquids at fire scenes. Members also help run the Boston Fire Department Firesense Program. This program is run with The Boston Public School Counseling and Intervention Center. It helps young kids before they get into more serious trouble.


If you want to register a lab in the City of Boston, you need to get approval from the Lab Safety unit. Labs are buildings, rooms, and workplaces that are used for scientific development or observation. This includes:

  • medical and chemical sciences
  • physical sciences
  • biological sciences
  • experimentation or research involving testing and analysis, or
  • any other activities that use hazardous materials.

We created a lab registration guide to help you get started. You also also download lab-related forms.


The Legal unit enforces state and local fire laws. They issue violations when property owners don’t meet fire safety rules. A violation can lead to fines — and in some cases — criminal charges. A property owner often has 15 days to fix the problem and schedule a new inspection. If they don’t, the violation will become a criminal complaint. Find out what to do if you get a violation.


Fire prevention is just as important as fire fighting. The Public Education unit reaches out to residents to teach them about home safety. Members of the unit will also visit schools and other programs to educate children. Learn more about fire safety.


The unit handles permits for special hazards, like special effects or generators. They also review plans and make any inspections if needed. Find out more about special hazards permits and guidelines.


The unit performs regular inspections of different occupancies in the City of Boston, including hotels, night clubs, hospitals, schools, and theaters. The unit also issues of Place of Assembly permits and enforces City laws on cooking hood and ventilation systems. You can learn more about Place of Assembly on our forms and applications page.

Still have questions? Contact:
Fire Prevention
1010 Mass Avenue
4th Floor
Boston, MA 02118
United States
Fire report and records request:
  • 617-343-3402
Request a Car Fire Report:

All Fire Department phone numbers