The Plan Review Process

When is a plan review required?

Site plans and building plans providing all information shall be submitted to the Office of the City of Wilmington Fire Marshal for review and approval prior to actual construction with respect to the following:

  • For all new buildings and additions, and;
  • For any building undergoing a change in occupancy, and;
  • For any part of a building suffering damage from fire, explosion or any other cause.
  • For all dwelling units when attached in units of three or more, to verify the fire rated design of the required separation wall between units.
  • Exception: One- and two-family dwellings classified in Chapter 2 of this Regulation as, (1) individual, detached stand alone dwelling unit, or (2) when attached in units of not more than two, commonly referred to as a DUPLEX.

Plans must be submitted for any building undergoing alteration, renovation, or remodeling which does not meet the above criteria. In this case plans will be reviewed for maintaining proper means of egress and features of fire protection only.

Some examples of occupancy change include:

  • A church leases an existing warehouse and wants to hold service in that building. The change is from Storage occupancy to Assembly occupancy.
  • A real estate company wants to renovate a fast food establishment for use as an office. The change is from Mercantile (or Assembly if more than 50 occupants were capable of being seated) to Business occupancy even if they leave the kitchen as they found it.

A review is required if no structural or plan modifications are being made.

In a case where a new Air Conditioning system is being installed to replace an existing system, a review is necessary. We do need to review replacement of systems to verify the placement of smoke detectors. Where this new equipment is installed, that equipment must comply with the current code. The situation could exist where an old piece of equipment that has fire stats is being replaced. We will need to verify that the new equipment has the appropriate smoke detector fan shut down features required by the current code.

New work in an existing building is required to comply with the current code. If the new HVAC system will require new or renovated mechanical room(s), then a floor plan in the submittal would need to include these rooms indicating any required rated walls or door assemblies and any information as these new spaces relate to egress and other life safety systems such as a requirement for additional sprinkler heads or connections to the existing fire alarm system.

Are there any exceptions to a required plan review?

The primary legal exceptions are new or renovated one or two family dwellings. If you are contemplating opening a business in your home that invites the public, such as a Day Care Center or a Hair or Nail Salon, then you are required to submit for review, even if you are not intending to modify the structure. Note that some modification may be required due to the changes of Occupancy for that part of the home that you intend to use in your business. Replacement of roofing is considered maintenance and would not require submittal.

If you have any concern as to whether a modification requires plan review, write a letter to this office addressed to the Plan Review Division. Specify in the letter exactly what you propose to do to the building, indicate the occupancy classification of the building, the occupant load, and the square footage of the building. Specifically ask in your letter whether a Plan Review will be required. We will respond.

What do I need to submit for a plan review?

  • Proper street address and parcel number for the property.
  • Check or money order for plan review fee made payable to the City of Wilmington.
  • One set of drawings and specifications and, when applicable, stamped by the architect or civil engineer preparing the documents. All items shall be sent in one package. Submittals that require a seal that do not, or have incomplete/partial submittals will be returned without being reviewed.
  • A description of how building is to be used so we will be able to determine the correct occupancy.
  • A signed copy of the cost agreement between the contractor and the property owner shall be attached to the application. This agreement shall detail the contract amount for the proposed construction.

Drawings for all work shall include:

  • Proper street address and parcel number for the property.
  • Site plan drawn to scale showing project, distances to nearby buildings, fences, parking, handicapped access, location of hazardous features such as fuel storage or incinerators.
  • Floor plan(s) drawn to scale showing walls and partitions, openings, door swings, built-in features, changes in elevation such as steps or ramps, dimensions, and notes to indicate what is shown and the use (room name) of each space.
  • Details required explaining construction and/or other features.
  • Exterior elevations if appropriate. Stair and railing details, plans, and sections.
  • Schedules for doors, windows, hardware, and room finishes.
  • Drawings of heating and air conditioning systems.
  • Electrical drawings showing service, fire alarm, exit lighting and emergency lighting where required.
  • The drawings shall clearly indicate what is existing and what changes are proposed.
  • A ground floor plan showing required exits and floor plans of the entire floor(s) where work is contemplated (such as in high rise buildings).
  • The number of stories and there use shall be indicated on the drawings.

Drawings and specifications shall comply with:

How do I submit addenda, revisions, etc.?

  • Additional information added to submittals logged in must be requested by the architect or contractor of record.
  • Addenda and change orders submissions are handled as separate projects and therefore must be submitted with a completed Plan Review Application and appropriate review fee. Some addenda reviews may require resubmission of the entire project.
  • A copy of the original submittal application will be required.

Filling out the plans review application.

This information is provided to answer your questions on the proper information requested on the Plan Review Application Form. The information that is requested on the Plan Review Application is necessary for this office to properly track and administer the plan review and inspection process. In addition, the information provided helps us ensure that the proper licensing laws have been met and that your project is being safely designed in accordance with appropriate codes and regulations. If your project is not located within the City of Wilmington, your submittal will not be accepted and must be submitted to the State Fire Marshal’s Office for review.

Fill out all of the appropriate required information for your project as follows:

Project Name:

Provide the correct street address and parcel number you want us to use for all submittals for your project. Please use the correct address on all architectural and system submittals so that a search can be performed by that address in our database.

Project Address:

Do not put your mailing address here unless you are doing work in the same building that you occupy at time of application. Provide the actual municipal address of the project to be reviewed. Check with your local codes and permits office or the post office to determine what address they will assign. Use this address exactly on all applications and on any correspondence with this office. If a suite or building space number is available to further identify the project, provide that information also.

Project Description Detailed:

Provide a detailed description of the project along with intended use of the facility. If the project involves the installation of combustible liquid storage tanks, include a tank permit form with the application.

Purpose of Application:

Please check the appropriate boxes identifying the type of review you are requesting. If you are not submitting a system design for review, you will check the "Building" box. In addition, if you are requesting a "Sprinkler" or "Fire Alarm" review, you must check the appropriate box for that information.

Estimated Cost of Project or System:

For the Building Review, insert the total projected cost of the project to include all construction without the costs of land. For Systems Reviews, only insert the actual cost or contract amount of the system being reviewed. For example, the entire project may cost $100,000 while the Fire Alarm System may cost $3,000. A signed copy of the cost agreement between the contractor and the property owner shall be attached to the application. This agreement shall detail the contract amount for the proposed construction.

Submitted By:

Provide the name and address of the person or Company submitting the application. Provide a contact person along with a phone number.

Contractor:

Provide the name, address and phone number of the contractor responsible for completing the construction. All fire protection system design and installation requires contractors to be licensed by the State of Delaware. Provide State FMO License # number on Fire Protection Plan Review Application. All contractors are required to have a City of Wilmington business license and must get a permit from L&I to do the work.

Plans Review and Additional Information Form:

Complete the additional information sheet with as much information as you can, that pertains to the building or location of your project. Provide information on any fire protection systems that may exist in the building. This information will help the plans examiner apply the appropriate codes and standards to your project.

Plan Approval

Plan approval will be provided in the form of a letter sent to the submitter of the project. The letter will indicate that the plans were “hereby accepted”, “accepted with the following conditions”, or “rejected for the following reasons”. Plans that are accepted may have conditions that will be required before a CO is issued. Plans that are rejected will be required to re-submit.

Filing an Appeal

All appeals shall be made in such form as is designated by the State Fire Prevention Commission. Forms for appeal are available at the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

An appeal shall not be considered filed until it has been received by the State Fire Prevention Commission.

All appeals that originate from enforcement action by one of the Assistant State Fire Marshals, from the jurisdictions as defined 16 Del.C. §6606(c), shall be reviewed by the State Fire Marshal with the jurisdictional Assistant State Fire Marshal, to determine if, in fact, the State Fire Prevention Regulations appear to have been appropriately interpreted and applied to the case in question. It shall be the responsibility of the jurisdictional Assistant State Fire Marshal, who initiated the enforcement action resulting in the filing of the appeal, to contact the State Fire Marshal and arrange for this review.

The State Fire Marshal shall make a report to the State Fire Prevention Commission of his findings with respect to his review of the enforcement action. The report shall be limited to an opinion from the State Fire Marshal that the State Fire Prevention Regulations appear to have been interpreted and applied correctly by the jurisdictional Assistant State Fire Marshal; this information may be considered as part of their deliberation by the State Fire Prevention Commission as to the validity of the need for an appeal hearing.

If the State Fire Prevention Commission finds that the State Fire Prevention Regulations have not been correctly interpreted or applied by the jurisdictional Assistant State Fire Marshal, then the Commission may remand the issue back to the jurisdictional Assistant State Fire Marshal for appropriate application of the State Fire Prevention Regulations.


Contact the Fire Marshal's Office

Mailing Address:

Fire Marshal's Office
Louis L. Redding City/County Building
800 N. French Street, 3rd Floor
Wilmington, Delaware 19801

Phone: (302) 576-3120

Fax: (302) 573-7701

Inspection Hotline: (302) 571-4583

Smoke Alarm Hotline: (302) 571-4361