Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are fire protection and life safety systems?

  • The primary duties of this Section are to conduct Fire Life Safety Plan Check and Fire Life Safety Inspections interpreting and enforcing applicable standards of codes concerning new construction and remodeling.
  • One of the main functions of plan check is to review plans submitted for permits and prepare correction notices and provide information service to the public and City officials regarding safety requirements. 

2. Which codes are currently adopted by the City of South Padre Fire Department? 

  • 2015 International Fire Code
  • 2015 International Building Code 

3. What plans do the South Padre Island Fire Department Review? 

  • The Fire Prevention Division reviews for compliance with the International Fire Code/International Building Code, local amendments, and NFPA standards. The plans include smoke control systems, fire alarm systems, alternative agent fire suppression systems, automatic fire sprinkler systems, standpipe systems, fire pump/water supply, and hazardous material storage and use. 

4. What are the South Padre Island Fire Inspector’s intake office visiting and phone hours? 

  • Monday – Friday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • The contact number is 956-761-3832 

5. How do I schedule an Inspection? 

  • Information concerning the various types of Inspections performed by the South Padre Island Fire Department, including pre-inspection checklists, can be found on our Fire Inspections link at the City of South Padre Island website. We encourage you to visit this site and review the materials to ensure that you are ready for your inspection, prior to scheduling.
  • To schedule an inspection, please call 956-761-3832 between the hours of 8am-5 pm Monday- Friday.

6.Will South Padre Island Fire Department inspect a building on request? 

  • Yes, we respond to requests for “walk-throughs” at businesses and we also respond to complaints at locations with known or suspected fire hazards. 

7. What are some common reasons for site plan rejections? 

  • Lack of fire flow data and/or supporting hydraulic calculations
  • Missing or incomplete fire access road (fire lane) designation
  • Fire hydrant spacing requirements
  • Improper turning radii in the fire access road (fire lanes) to support maneuvering fire apparatus
  • Lack of (or inadequate) turnarounds at the end of fire access roads (fire lanes) that are greater than or equal to 150’ long
  • Engineer seal not signed or no seal provided
  • Texas Registered Engineering Firm number not provided on each sealed plan sheet 

8.What are fire protection and life safety systems? 

  • The primary duties of this Section are to conduct Fire Life Safety Plan Check and Fire Life Safety Inspections interpreting and enforcing applicable standards of codes concerning new construction and remodeling.
  • One of the main functions of plan check is to review plans submitted for permits and prepare correction notices and provide information service to the public and City officials regarding safety requirements. 

9. How long does it take for a set of plans to be reviewed? 

  • For a new installation project the standard review time is 15 business days. For a remodel project, the standard review time is 7 business days. 

10. How will I know when my plan review is complete and ready for pick-up? 

  • Once the review is complete, plan reviewers will email the point of contact provided on submittal of checklist/calculation fee form. 

11. What is fire flow and how is it determined? 

  • Fire flow is the flow rate of a water supply, measured at 20 psi residual pressure that is available for fire-fighting. A fire hydrant flow test is performed using the two fire hydrants nearest the property and these results are used to calculate the fire flow available. (Refer to the 2015 International Fire Code B102.1) 

12. What is a fire hydrant flow test and where do I go to get one? 

  • A fire hydrant flow test is used to test the pressure, velocity, and flow rate within the water line. A fire hydrant flow test request is needed to determine the available water pressure and flow rate within public water mains for establishing the available fire flow to a development site and also for establishing the water supply characteristics for the hydraulic design of automatic fire sprinkler systems. The required fire flow demand for a structure is set forth by the International Fire Code. Once the building construction type and the gross area of the proposed structure are known, the required fire flow demand can be determined.
  • For a hydrant flow test contact the City of South Padre Island Fire Department office at 956-761-3040. 

13. When are buildings required to be sprinklered and why? 

  • The fire sprinkler requirements for a building are explained in the building and fire code. The requirement is dependent upon several factors such as occupancy classification, building size, construction type and other factors.
  • Refer to 2015 International Building Code  

14. Are fire sprinklers systems expensive? 

  • 85% of all U.S. fire deaths occur in the home. While it is true that fire sprinkler systems will increase the cost of the home, the potential benefits far outweigh the cost of the systems. Cost of the systems can vary depending on the type of system, size of the home, contractor selected and type of materials used. The national average for installing automatic fire sprinklers in new homes is $1.35 per sprinklered square foot. Putting that figure in perspective, people pay similar amounts for carpet upgrades, 10 whirlpool baths, or granite countertops. Plus, fire sprinklers are similar to investing in a full-time firefighter that stands at the ready 24/7 to protect you, your loved ones, and property. 

15. Are residential fire sprinkler system unattractive? 

  • Many modern residential fire sprinklers have options to provide more aesthetically pleasing and customizable options like modern home appliances. Options like recessed sprinklers in which sprinkler heads are located in the walls or ceilings are provided with small flat plate covers to conceal them. These plates come in a variety of colors to closely match the paint colors in the home. Many people will not even know there is a fire sprinkler system in the home. 

16. Won’t fire sprinklers flood my whole house when activated? 

  • This is likely the biggest myth of all about fire sprinkler systems. Unlike what we see in the movies, when a fire sprinkler system activates, not all of the sprinkler heads spray water. In fact, most fires are either extinguished or controlled by the activation of only one sprinkler head. Sprinkler heads are designed to activate when sufficient heat reaches the head(s). Only the sprinklers head(s) in the area of the heat source will activate. Smoke detectors and/or heat detectors will not set off fire sprinklers so burning toast or something in the oven will not activate fire sprinklers. Shut off valves on the fire sprinkler riser can be turned off to stop the flow of water from the sprinkler head(s) once the fire has been extinguished. 

17. What type of fire sprinkler systems are acceptable for residential properties? 

  • Residential fire sprinkler system can be designed and installed according to the NFPA 13D or International Residential Code (IRC) P2904 requirements. Residential fire sprinkler systems can be stand-alone systems that require their own separate water piping or combination systems that use the same domestic water line that are already installed in the home. Both systems must be designed and installed by state licensed professionals. 

18. Doesn’t the water discharge from a fire sprinkler system cause more damage than the fire? 

  • Fire sprinkler heads average 12-14 Gallons per Minute (GPM) of discharge per sprinkler head. Since a very large percentage of all fires in homes with a fire sprinkler system are controlled or extinguished by the activation of one sprinkler head and this activation occurs very soon after the ignition of a fire, the damage from the water and fire are significantly reduced. In comparison, the average response time for fire departments is 7 to 10 minutes. This allows a significant amount of time for a fire to grow generating not only heat but also smoke and toxic fumes. Average hose flow from a fire hose line is approximately 200 to 250 GPM. The increased response time and water required to extinguish a fire in a home without fire sprinklers will cause a very significant increase in property damage costs. 

19. Where can I get an Occupancy Load Certificate? 

  • The Fire Marshal Office issues occupancy load certificates to public establishments and can be set up by calling 956- 761-3832 or emailing 

20. Where and how can I rent a Mobi-Chair? How much does it cost? 

  • There is NO COST for renting the Mobi-Chair
  • You can rent a Mobi-Chair by coming to the Fire Department during business hours 8am-5pm, 106 W. Retama St, South Padre Island Tx, 78597.
  • We’ll need the following:
    1. Driver’s license (we’ll make a copy of it for our records)
    2. Your phone Number
    3. Name and address of where you are staying
    4. Vehicle Make
    5. Days needed (You may rent the Mobi-Chair for a maximum of a week depending on availability. If you have any questions please call the Fire Department at 956-761-3832)