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Land Development

Published on: 3/13/2013 12:46 PM
The County Fire Marshal's Office is responsible for reviewing plans submitted to the County Planning Office for site approval or use permit for the purpose of setting conditions for development or use. Our office also reviews your final building plans to ensure compliance with these conditions. Plans for administrative permits issued by the Planning Office for public events such as bingo, fairs, festivals, public display of fireworks, concerts, etc. are also reviewed by the Fire Marshal's Office. The process is described in more detail below.Whether your project is a single family dwelling, a residential subdivision, a commercial or agricultural exempt facility, or a structure in the Ranchlands, our job is to ensure that for any type of emergency, your local fire department will be able to reach your site quickly and safely in any conditions, have room to operate their equipment, and have access to enough fire protection water to successfully fight a fire on the property.

In many areas of the County, existing roads and water supplies are not adequate or are non-existent, and they must be provided or improved by the developing party. County Fire Marshal Standards have been developed which give the property owner reasonable alternatives to providing both fire protection water and fire department access to the site. Downloadable copies of the Fire Marshal Standards in PDF format have been provided for your use and are organized by project type to assist you in determining which standards are appropriate for your project.

If you have not provided enough information in your submittal for us to set conditions, you will receive a letter from the Planning Office, stating that your plans are incomplete, along with a list of the information still needed. If you have any questions about the Fire Marshal's comments in the letter, you may contact us  by phone at (408) 299-5763 or by e-mail at  If you would like to discuss your project prior to submittal, feel free to drop by and speak to a Deputy Fire Marshal:
Wednesdays and Fridays
9:30 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 5 pm

As the Building closes at 5 pm, it's best to come by a little before so you have time to discuss your project.
Appointments during those times are not necessary, and everyone is taken on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Fire Marshal also participates in the Planning Office's pre-application program, see the County Planning Office site: Please note that all staff comments are preliminary until final submittal of your plans.
PLEASE NOTE: We are only able to assign one Deputy Fire Marshal on a part time basis to review land development plans, so we request that you be patient when waiting for a response to phone calls or for information you have requested. We will make every effort to respond within a reasonable time, however turnaround time for plan review and response to phone calls or requests for information will be largely dependent upon workload.


Special Provisions
The County Planning Office has several special Zoning designations for properties/structures, such as structures built on properties zoned as 'Ranchlands' (AR) which do not require building site approval, and Agricultural Exempt structures, which do not require a Building Permit. Please note that all such structures must still meet all appropriate Fire Marshal requirements.  

  • Agricultural Exempt
    Although an Agricultural Exempt structure does not require a building permit, you must comply with Fire Marshal regulations. Please reference the 'Agricultural Exempt' sections of the County Fire Marshal Standards for both Residential and Non-Residential requirements.
  • Structures built in the Ranchlands (AR) zone also have special exemptions (please see the Planning Office for more information), however Fire Marshal regulations still apply.  

This is where we set the conditions for land development.  At this stage, we need the following information provided on or with your plans:
1. Plans shall be drawn to scale or pertinent dimensions shall be included.
2. Clearly indicate the scope of your project. Please clearly indicate structures not included in the scope of the project.
3. Use of each structure on the property (residential, commercial, agricultural, etc. Please be specific). 
4. Maximum square footage of all structure(s) (including any attached structure, e.g.: garage).
5. Construction type of all structure(s) (see the California Building Code)
6. Location of other structures and property lines
7. Existing fire protection water supply:
  a. Source: who is your local water purveyor or how much water does the property have in storage (describe storage method, such as above- or below-ground tank, swimming pool, pond, etc. and include capacity in gallons)

b. How close is the nearest existing hydrant (if any)
  c. Type of hydrant (wharf or standard) and size of supply piping:

Types of Hydrants

Standard          Wharf   


What is the available flow in gallons per minute (gpm) and pressure in pounds per square inch (psi) from that hydrant


Existing site access: We need the following for both the access road (starting from a County-maintained road), and the driveway leading from the access road to the structure(s):

  a. Length, measured from the centerline of the access road to the structure (for driveway only)
  b. Clear width (including any drivable shoulders)
  c. Load-bearing capacity (including bridges and culverts)
  d. Vertical clearance
  e. Driving surface (e.g.: asphalt, dirt, gravel, base rock, etc.)
  f. Inside turning radius
  g. Percent grade of roadway,  driveway, and any turnarounds or turnouts
9. Any special conditions pertinent to your property such as:
  a. Shared water agreement
  b. Easements
As we review your plans, we will:
  1. Determine which fire department will respond to emergencies on your property. NOTE: If you are located in the State Response Area (SRA), it is important that you understand that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) is responsible for protection of the watershed only, and is not available in some areas outside of Fire Season.
  2. Determine whether the available water supply (if any) is adequate for the size, construction type and use of your proposed structure.
  3. Determine whether you must connect to the local water supply for fire protection water. (NOTE: it is important that you contact your water purveyor as soon as possible to avoid project delays.)
  4. Determine whether the property is located in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), where additional regulations apply.
  5. Set conditions which must be agreed upon by the applicant prior to site approval by the Planning Office, and clearly indicate when each condition must be met. When you submit plans for a Building Permit, you must show on those plans how you will meet all conditions.

When your plans are submitted to the Building Department for the purpose of obtaining a Building Permit, they are routed to the Fire Marshal's Office, where we check your plans to make sure all the development conditions, set when the plans were submitted to the Planning Office for site approval, see Step 1, have been met. If they have not, you will receive a letter from the Planning Office explaining what you will need to provide.
Comments issued as a result of this review will be limited to site approval issues, such as fire department access and fire protection water supply.  Plans for other-than-residential structures will be routed to the Fire Marshal's Office a second time for a review for compliance with the Fire and Building Code, and a second set of comments will be issued directly from this office.
If you have any questions about the Fire Marshal's comments on the letter, you may contact us  by phone at (408) 299-5763 or by e-mail at

We have provided downloadable copies of the County Fire Marshal Standards for your use. A guide has also been provided to assist you in determining which standards are appropriate for your project.