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Multifamily Residential Property Managers

Self-Survey:  

Please utilize our Multifamily Fire Safety Self-Survey to assist with assessing general safety and code compliance at your property.  Please take a few moments to conduct the survey and begin removing hazards as needed.  You may find it useful to conduct monthly, quarterly, or even bi-annual surveys to improve safety.  This form is provided as a voluntary compliance tool to assist you in maintaining a fire safe facility and preparing you for visit by one of our team members:


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

How do I obtain a Certificate of Occupancy?

Each building constructed should have been issued a Construction Certificate of Occupancy when it was completed or after substantial renovations.  The occupant or tenant managing the property should have received a Business License and Certificate of Occupancy (BLCO) with the current business name.  These documents are critical for us to ensure the legal and authorized occupancy of the property and should be displayed in a common office area.  If a common office area is not present on site they should be readily available from a responsible party.

If you cannot locate your Certificate of Occupancy, please do one of the following:

  • Properties constructed prior to 2014 should contact our Records Management Division and request the Construction Certificate of Occupancy, Certificate of Occupancy, and/or Business License Certificate of Occupancy that may be on file.  Please provide your address, any address changes that may have occurred, and a description of the property (use, number of buildings, etc.).  Requests may be emailed to Meg Moughan, Records Manager, at .
  • Properties constructed after 2014 should contact our Building Inspection Division and request the Construction Certificate of Occupancy, Certificate of Occupancy, and/or Business License Certificate of Occupancy that may be on file.  Please provide your address, any address changes that may have occurred, and a description of the property (use, number of buildings, etc.).  Requests may be emailed to Cindy Hicks, Building Inspections Clerk, at .
  • If you have not received or applied for a Business License or Business License Certificate of Occupancy in the past or if the ownership has changed, please follow the link below and complete the application.  Applications will need be submitted to the Permit Center at 2 George Street:  https://www.charleston-sc.gov/index.aspx?NID=136
  • Properties that were constructed in the County and later annexed into the City will need to work with County Records Department to obtain previously issued documentation.  Please visit the County website to learn more, research, or reach out to their office: https://www.charlestoncounty.org/online-services.php


What can we do to make sure our records are readily available?

We recommend creating a binder labeled “Fire Protection”, or similar, to consolidate:

  • Your internal inspection and tracking documentation on smoke alarms, fire alarm and fire sprinkler systems, fire-resistance-rated construction inspections, fire extinguishers, dryer vent inspections, private hydrant inspections, etc.
  • Facility emergency plans.
  • Site plans.
  • Routine inspection reports issued by your local jurisdiction.

This will greatly assist your management team in organizing their information and provide and assist your Fire Inspector when they visit the site.


Do I need to inspect fire-resistance-rated construction?

Yes, Chapter 7 of the South Carolina Fire Code does require the owner (or their assigned agent) to visually inspect such elements at least annually.  The most common area of concern that we have encountered is the fire/smoke separations in the attic area – these are often breached or damaged during renovations or as new services (such as cable TV) were run through the separations.  Fire/smoke penetrations that are not properly sealed in the attic contribute to significant advancement of fire and smoke in these spaces.  Ensuring all penetrations are properly sealed and ratings maintained will significantly reduce the damage your property may encounter during a fire event.  Developing an inspection program, detailing the findings of the inspection and accompanied by photographs, is the best course of action to satisfy this requirement. Your Fire Inspector will request to review these records.


How do I verify each sleeping unit has an operable exterior door or window in each bedroom?

Windows often serve as the required secondary means of egress for a bedroom, and as an alternate method for firefighters to enter the room.  These windows must remain operable at all times and their operation should be verified before the unit has been rented and after any painting activities have occurred.  Developing a documentation process to record the review and verification of the operation of these windows is the best course of action.   Your Fire Inspector will request to review these records.


How do I document the smoke alarm condition in my units?

Smoke alarm testing is critical to ensure minimum levels of safety have been established.  We recommend developing an inspection log to record the age of the alarm, the last testing date, and the battery replacement date to assist in meeting these requirements.  Many locations have incorporated a smoke alarm test and inspection with other routine maintenance activities such as HVAC inspections or filter changes.  Your Fire Inspector will request to review these records.


Should I be concerned with lint build-up in dryer vents?

Yes, dryer vents can pose a fire hazard to your property and they should be cleaned and inspected.  This can be a problem within the units if dryer connections are provided or in common laundry facilities.  If the dryers are leased, pleased work with the leasing company to verify what they clean – the will often clean the unit and the connection to the wall and may not be responsible for cleaning beyond the connection.  Verifying the dryer vent is clear and obstructed will reduce the hazard to your property.  Developing a documentation process to record and monitor the duct work is your best course of action and will be requested by your Fire Inspector.


Are fire extinguishers required?

The 2015 South Carolina Fire Code, Section 906, does require fire extinguishers in new and existing multifamily occupancies. 


What type of fire extinguisher is acceptable:

Multi-family occupancies are general classified as “light hazard” and require an ABC fire extinguisher that has a minimum 2A-10BC rating. 


Where should I install the fire extinguisher?

Fire extinguishers need to be located in areas so they are easily identifiable within a building unit.  This includes placement of extinguishers on each level with a travel distance of no greater than 75’from the furthest apartment.

Section 906.5 Conspicuous location.  Portable fire extinguishers shall be located in conspicuous locations where they will be readily accessible and immediately available for use.  These locations shall be along normal paths of travel, unless the fire code official determines the need for placement away from the normal paths of travel.

Section 906.6 Unobstructed and unobscured.  Portable fire extinguishers shall not be obstructed or obscured from view.  In rooms or areas in which visual obstruction cannon be completely avoided, means shall be provided to indicate the locations of the extinguishers.


How can I install or mount the fire extinguisher?

Section 906.7 Hangers and brackets.  Hand-held portable fire extinguishers, not housed in cabinets, shall be installed in the hangers of the brackets supplies.  Hangers or brackets shall be securely anchored to the mounting surface in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Section 906.8 Cabinets.  Cabinets used to house portable fire extinguishers shall not be locked.  Exceptions: Where portable fire extinguishers subject to malicious use or damage are provided with a means of ready access.

Section 906.9.1 Extinguishers weighing 40 pounds or less.  Portable fire extinguishers having a gross weight not exceeding 40 pounds shall be installed so that their tops are not more than 5 feet above the floor.

Section 906.9.3 Floor Clearance.  The clearance between the floor and the bottom of the installed hand-held portable fire extinguishers shall not be less than 4 inches.


Do I need to conduct annual testing of my fire extinguishers?

Fire extinguishers are required to be serviced annually by a licensed fire extinguisher servicing company.  The technician will inspect and service the unit, and affix a service tag to the extinguisher.