We all know that it is essential to have smoke detectors in our homes, but often that is where our knowledge of fire code stops. Many living in Vermont do not know that they are required to follow the Fire and Safety Code until it’s time to sell their home. Today we’ll provide some enlightenment to the rules and regulations in Vermont, what properties are required to get “Fire and Safety” inspections when selling, and what you can do to stay up to code.
Fire and Safety Code
“Since 1972 the State of Vermont Division of Fire Safety has adopted nationally recognized safety standards to protect the public. Vermont is able to benefit from the research and fire safety experience of experts from across the nation. The Division of Fire Safety amends the national standards to address conditions specific to Vermont.” (Vermont’s Website Codes and Standards)
Do I need to get an inspection?
Why these rules are important may seem like an easy answer—for our safety. It’s necessary to note it is also for the protection of those around us. This is why Fire and Safety Inspections are required when selling your condominium, townhome, or multifamily.
“Owner-occupied single-family residences (i.e. standalone structures) are exempt, unless the home is a rental property and thus falls into the definition of a “public building.” Under the Vermont Statutes, a "public building" means a cooperative or condominium or a building in which people rent accommodations, whether overnight or for a longer term.” (The City of Burlington Website)
It is for compliance and to ensure the property is up to the current code for the purchaser. Different municipalities may have varying forms, fees, and fire marshals for these inspections. You are required to fill out this form in the State of Vermont to request your fire and safety inspection. The form includes the different offices you will send your request to, depending on your location. It is important to note that Burlington, Winooski, and Barre have their own procedures so ask your agent for details or contact the Town Clerk for further instruction.
What are the Most Common Violations?
The easiest way to pass your fire and safety inspection is by knowing the most common violations ahead of time and getting the proper work completed. Some violations inspectors see often include: handrails/guardrails not being at the correct height, incorrect smoke and CO detectors, dryer vents and ducts incorrectly installed or cleaned, and the absence of a functional fire extinguisher. For handrails: the correct range of height for handrails is 30-38 inches above the floor or tread. For dryer vents: “All clothes dryers shall be exhausted to the outside air, with the maximum exhaust vent length not exceeding 35 ft. as measured from the dryer terminal to the outlet. This 35 ft. length is reduced by 2 1/2 ft. for each 45-degree bend and 5 ft. for each 90-degree bend. Dryer exhaust systems shall be independent of all other systems, shall convey the moisture to the outdoors, and shall terminate on the outside of the building.” (City of Burlington)
Smoke Detectors: Different Styles
Many residents are being flagged as of late for outdated and incorrectly placed smoke detectors. You should have one on each level of your home, including the basement. Detectors should also be in each bedroom. When installing, you can hire a professional, or use a battery-powered one and install it yourself. “A battery-powered smoke detector uses batteries, while a hard-wired smoke detector is wired into your home's circuitry. Both types of alarms will sound when they detect smoke. One benefit of a hard-wired detector is that some have a battery backup, so even if your home loses power, the detector will still work.” In Vermont, it’s important to note the type of smoke detector your home is now required to have. This would be a photoelectric detector. Photoelectric has been known to alert of fire quicker than the other style, ionized detectors. While there do exist combination smoke detectors of photoelectric/ionization type, this faster alert time is why it is now a requirement to have photoelectric-only detectors in your home. It is likely any fire marshall inspecting your property will start with the smoke detectors.
While keeping your home up to code may seem like an inconvenience, these are in place to ensure safety within your home, and a smoother road to closing. If you’re looking to sell with an agent who assists with all things Fire and Safety, email: Elise@polliproperties.com.