Update business contact information 

An electronic form is available for businesses to provide new and updated contact information for the Iowa City Fire Department. This information will only be used by the department. 

Building key locators (Knox-Box®)

All new buildings, with the exception of R3 and unsecured R2 occupancies, are required to utilize the Knox Box system. The ICFD encourages businesses in the community to utilize the Knox-Box® system to provide rapid entry after hours. The Knox-Box® system is a secure rapid entry program specifically developed for fire departments. With one master key, the fire department can gain access to commercial and residential property throughout the community. Nearly 5,000 departments nationwide use Knox key boxes and vaults, Haz-Mat cabinets, key switches and padlocks. The ICFD uses strict guidelines to control the master keys.

Property owners in the Iowa City community may store entrance keys, access cards and floor plans in high-security Knox-Boxes® mounted near their building's entrances. Each Knox-Box® purchased by the property owner is keyed to a single master key controlled by the ICFD. With the Knox system, there is no cost to the fire department, no waiting for a property owner to unlock the door in the middle of the night, and no forcing the door open to gain entry. The Knox Rapid Entry System reduces response time, property damage and the liability for lost keys.

Contact the Fire Marshal's office at 319-356-5257 if you are interested in protecting your commercial property with a Knox-Box.

Visit Knox-Box®.
(This link is for information only, please do not order directly until there is contact made with the Fire Marshal.)

Fire alarms and sprinkler systems

Fire alarms

Unintentional false fire alarm fees

FALSE FIRE ALARM: The activation of a fire alarm system, not by fire or hazard, but through careless use, technical failure, equipment malfunction, improper installation, or negligence of the owner or lessee of an alarm system, or of his or her employees or agents. False fire alarm does not include alarm failures caused by water, gas, electrical, telephone, or other utilities not under the control of the alarm user, or the willful act of a person other than the alarm owner or his or her employees or agents.


  1. No person shall maintain a fire alarm system that produces a false alarm to which fire department personnel are expected to respond.
  2. Within thirty (30) minutes of the fire department's response to a location due to a false fire alarm, an owner shall personally report to the place of business or residence to reset the alarm. However, an owner is not required to personally report if the alarm user, a designated employee, a service provider, and/or the owner's agent reports within thirty (30) minutes of the fire department's response to a location.
  3. A violation of this section will subject the person to an assessment of fees as provided in this chapter and/or to the penalty provisions contained in section 7-3-8 of this chapter. (Ord. 08-4297, 2-5-2008)


  1. False alarm and failure to report fees shall be set by resolution. All fees shall be paid within thirty (30) days of the date that the fee is assessed.
  2. As an alternative to the imposition of fees for false alarms based upon technical failure, equipment malfunction, or improper installation, the fire chief or designated representative may waive such fees if the owner returns to the fire chief or designated representative a statement of repair deemed satisfactory by the enforcement officer. In addition, the fire chief or designated representative may waive such fees if the owner and/or alarm user agrees to upgrade the existing alarm system in such a manner which, in the determination of the fire chief or designated representative, will significantly reduce or eliminate further false fire alarms. The alarm owner and/or alarm user shall submit appropriate documentation and specifications of such alarm system upgrades to the fire chief or designated representative for review. If such alarm system upgrades are approved by the fire chief or designated representative, imposition of the fees for false alarms based on technical failure, equipment malfunction, or improper installation may be held in abeyance for up to ninety (90) calendar days to allow for the installation and upgrade of the fire alarm system. Notice of approval or disapproval of the fire chief or designated representative shall be given in writing and served on the owner and/or user by regular mail. Failure of the alarm system owner and/or user to complete such upgrades within the specified ninety (90) calendar days may result in the imposition of the specified false fire alarm fee as provided herein. (Ord. 08-4297, 2-5-2008)

Iowa City Code Section 7-3-8: PENALTIES:

Any violation of this chapter shall be considered a simple misdemeanor or municipal infraction punishable by a penalty, as provided for in subsection 1-4-2D of this code. (Ord. 08-4297, 2-5-2008)

False alarm fees table

Fire alarm installer requirements

No person shall work as a fire alarm installer or perform maintenance on fire alarm systems unless the person holds a fire alarm license issued by the State of Iowa.

There shall be a properly licensed person present at all locations and at all times where work requiring a license is being performed. At least one licensed person shall be present for every three (3) laborers. Such licensed person must be an employee of the permit holder

Licensing ordinance, please reference Title 17, Chapter 11.

Licensed fire alarm installers

Sprinkler systems

Fire inspection system installer and maintenance worker

No person shall work as a fire protection system installer or perform maintenance on fire sprinkler systems unless the person holds a fire protection system installer license issued by the State of Iowa.

There shall be a properly licensed person present at all locations and at all times where work requiring a license is being performed. At least once licensed person shall be present for every three (3) laborers. Such licensed person must be an employee of the permit holder.

Licensing ordinance, please reference Title 17, Chapter 11.

Licensed fire sprinkler installers

Fire lanes

Iowa City Code Section 9-4-13: FIRE LANES

  1. Designation: The Fire Chief or authorized representative shall approve, require, and designate public and/or private fire lanes as deemed necessary for the efficient and effective operation of fire vehicles, personnel, and apparatus. Only those fire lanes approved by the Fire Chief or authorized representative will be enforced. A fire lane shall be posted with signs at least every forty (40) linear feet. Said fire lane shall be deemed to encompass that area within a twenty foot (20') radius of any fire lane sign or markings posted pursuant to this Section. Posted signs will comply with the "Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices" and at a minimum contain the following language: "FIRE LANE NO PARKING". Markings may include a painted yellow striped area measuring eight feet (8') from the curb/pavement edge and extending twenty feet (20') either side of a posted sign. Upon application to and approval by the Fire Chief or authorized representative, a private property owner may be granted a fire lane designation for such property. Installation of approved signage on private property will be the responsibility of the permit applicant/property owner. If an applicant/property owner is required by the City to post a fire lane, upon request, the signs will be provided by the City at cost or the applicant/property owner can obtain an approved sign from a vendor. When an area is posted as a fire lane as provided herein, it shall be presumed that said area is designated as a fire lane by or with the authority of the Fire Chief.
  2. Parking Prohibited: It shall be unlawful to have an unattended vehicle standing, stopped, or parked in or otherwise blocking or obstructing any portion of a designated fire lane at any time. Signs and markings shall be posted and placed to identify such fire lanes and to serve notice that standing, stopping, and/or parking is prohibited therein. Such illegally parked vehicles will be subject to fines and/or towing at the expense of the owner. All designated fire lane signs shall be maintained in a clean and legible condition at all times and replaced when necessary to ensure adequate visibility. This maintenance shall be the responsibility of the permit applicant/property owner.
  3. Penalty: Any violation of this Section shall be considered a simple misdemeanor or Municipal infraction as provided for in Title 1, Chapter 4 of this Code.
  4. Enforcement: It will be the responsibility of the Police Department to enforce the provisions of this Section as they apply to both public and private properties. The Iowa City Police Department is hereby authorized to ticket, tow, or cause to be towed, pursuant to the Code of Iowa, as amended, any vehicle that has been parked or placed upon the public or private street in violation of the parking laws of this City and/or State. This shall serve as appropriate notice of such authorization to the Iowa City Police Department under the Code of Iowa, as amended. By applying for a fire lane designation, any applicant private property owner and its employees and assigns hereby agree to release, indemnify, and hold harmless the City, its officers, employees, and agents from any damages or liability resulting from any ticketing or towing authorized under this Section.


Commercial properties

Commercial properties are inspected every other year on a random basis. Some establishments are inspected annually, including healthcare and daycare facilities and bars. No advance notice is given.

Reinspection fee of $15

Common inspection issues

Bollards - vehicle impact protection

Several code sections require vehicle impact protection.

2703.9.3 Hazardous Materials
3003.3.2 Compressed Gases
3403.6.4 Flammable and Combustible Liquids
3807.4 Liquefied Petroleum Gases
2206.4 Motor Fuel-Dispensing Facilities and Repair Garages, aboveground tanks
2207.5.3 Motor Fuel-Dispensing Facilities and Repair Garages, LP gas
2209.5.2 Motor Fuel-Dispensing Facilities and Repair Garages, hydrogen

IFC Section 312 describes what is required of guard posts (bollards) used to provide vehicle impact protection.

  1. Constructed of steel not less than 4 inches in diameter and concrete filled
  2. Spaced not more than 4 feet between posts on center
  3. Set not less than 3 feet deep in a concrete footing of not less than a 15 inch diameter
  4. Set with the top of the posts not less than 3 feet above ground
  5. Located not less than 3 feet from the protected object

Fire department connections – sprinkler systems and standpipes

Fire sprinkler systems and standpipes are important fire protection features which are built-in to many buildings. In order for these systems to function as designed, the fire department must be able to pump water into the systems through what is called the Fire Department Connection (FDC). Unfortunately, these Fire Department Connections are often the target of vandals who remove the protective caps. Once the caps are removed the systems are often rendered useless due to debris inside the FDC.

Section 912.3.1 of the International Fire Code authorizes the fire department to require locking caps on Fire Department Connections. The Iowa City Fire Department has chosen the Knox Company brand of locking FDC caps as the approved cap for installation in Iowa City. All ICFD apparatus carries the special wrench needed to remove the caps.

The locking caps should be installed on new fire sprinkler systems and standpipes when the systems are installed and on existing systems when replacement caps are needed. These caps may be ordered on-line at www.knoxbox.com, or by contacting the Iowa City Fire Marshal at 319-356-5257.

Residential/homeowner properties

Inspections are performed by the Neighborhood and Development Services Department.

Fire self-inspection checklist

Disclaimer: This checklist is intended for informational purposes only to assist a business owner/manager of a business. The checklist contains basic life safety items examined for a typical business inspection. The list is not exhaustive and the Iowa City Fire Department reserves the right to inspect for compliance with any applicable codes adopted by the City of Iowa City.

View the checklist below or download the PDF.

Access & Premises

  • Are address numbers for the building clearly visible from the street?
  • Is exterior fire department access unobstructed?
  • If applicable, does your Knox Box have current access keys?
  • Is there maintained a minimum 3' clearance around fire hydrants?


  • Are the exit ways and doors easily recognizable, unobstructed, and maintained functional?
  • If the main exit door is provided with key-locking hardware as allowed by code, is there a sign above the door that states "THIS DOOR MUST REMAIN UNLOCKED DURING BUSINESS HOURS"?
  • Are the other required exit doors readily opened from the inside without the use of a key or special knowledge or effort?
  • Are the exits and exit enclosures free from the storage of combustible materials?
  • Are doors with self-closing hinges (Fire Doors) maintained in the closed position (not blocked open)?


  • Are all electrical outlets, switches and junction boxes properly covered with cover plates and is the electrical system safe from any apparent shock and/or other electrical hazards?
  • Is the area maintained clear at least 30" in front of electrical panel(s)?
  • Are extension cords used only for temporary use?
  • If multiple items need to be plugged in, is a surge protector utilized with a built-in circuit breaker and is the surge protector plugged directly into a receptacle?

Emergency Lighting

  • If emergency lighting is provided, is it maintained in operable condition?
  • Is the means of egress illuminated when the building or structure is occupied?

Exit Signs

  • If exit signs are required, are they maintained illuminated or self-luminous?
  • Does the backup-battery work (push the test button and the exit sign should illuminate under battery power)?

Fire Alarm System

  • If the building is equipped with a fire alarm system, has the required annual functional test been performed and a record posted?

Fire Extinguishers

  • Is there access to fire extinguisher(s) rated minimum 2A-10BC?
  • Is the travel distance from all portions of the building less than 75-ft. to a fire extinguisher?
  • Are all fire extinguishers visible and accessible (not blocked)?
  • Have the fire extinguisher(s) been serviced and tagged by a fire extinguisher company within the last 12 months?
  • Are the fire extinguisher(s) properly mounted? (Proper locations-near exit doors where possible, not exceeding maximum travel distance, properly mounted maximum 5-FT. high if greater than 40 lbs., maximum 3 ½’ high if less than 40 lbs. In all cases, minimum 4” above the floor).

Fire/Smoke Separations

  • Are the fire/smoke separations (automatic smoke doors, fire doors, firewalls, etc.) maintained and in working condition?

Fire Suppression Systems

  • Is the top of storage maintained a minimum 18” below head deflectors in fire-sprinklered areas?
  • If the building is equipped with a fire sprinkler system, has the required annual service of the fire sprinkler system been performed in the last year by a qualified sprinkler company?
  • In commercial cooking applications, has the hood suppression system been serviced in the last six months and is the hood cleaned at intervals to prevent the accumulation of grease?


  • Is combustible rubbish that is stored in containers outside of vaults or rooms removed from the building a minimum of once each working day?
  • Are oily rags or similar materials stored in metal, metal-lined or other approved containers equipped with tight-fitting covers?
  • Are combustible decorations flame retardant?

Mechanical Hazards

  • Is the venting for exhaust products of combustion intact for gas appliances (like water heaters, furnaces, etc.)?
  • Are safe clearances maintained between gas-fired appliances (such as water heaters, furnaces, etc.) and combustible materials?

Smoke Detection

  • Where battery operated smoke detectors are used, have the batteries been replaced at least yearly?
  • If smoke detection is required in common areas such as corridors and basements, have they been functionally tested in the last year?

Storage of Combustibles

  • Is the storage of combustible materials orderly?
  • Are combustible materials not stored beneath the building or structure?
  • Are rubbish containers over 5 1/3 cubic feet (40 gallons) provided with lids and made of noncombustible construction?
  • Are dumpsters that are 1.5 cubic yards or more not stored inside the building and placed more than 5’ from combustible walls, openings or combustible roof eave lines?

Storage of Compressed Gas

  • If you have compressed gas containers (CO2, helium, etc.), are they chained to prevent falling?

Storage of Flammable & Combustible Liquids

  • Are quantities in excess of 10 gallons of flammable and combustible liquids used for maintenance purposes and the operation of equipment stored in liquid storage cabinets or in red metal safety cans, which cannot be stored in an exit egress or basement?