Chapter 31.10 Administration

City Code Chapter

31.10.010 Title.

  1. The authority established in this Title shall be known as the “Fire Regulations” and may be so cited and pleaded and is referred to herein as “this Title.”

31.10.020 Purpose and Scope.

  1. A.  This Title shall be deemed an exercise of the police powers of the City for the preservation and protection of the public health, peace, safety and welfare, and all of its provisions shall be liberally construed for that purpose.
  2. B.  This Title establishes regulations affecting or relating to structures, premises, processes, and safeguards regarding:
    1. 1.  The hazard of fire and explosion arising from the storage, handling or use of structures, materials or devices;
    2. 2.  Conditions hazardous to life, property or public welfare in the occupancy of structures or premises;
    3. 3.  Fire hazards in the structure or on the premises from occupancy or operations;
    4. 4.  Matters related to the construction, extension, repair, alteration or removal of fire suppression, fire alarm systems and hazardous material storage, dispensing and use.
  3. C.  The provisions of this Title shall apply equally to both public and private property, and shall be binding upon public officers and employees and all other persons except as may be otherwise specifically provided herein.
  4. D.  This Title shall be applicable in addition to the measures of fire prevention as set forth in the laws and regulations of the State of Oregon and the United States . The provisions of this Title, insofar as they are substantially the same as existing titles and/or ordinances relating to the same subject matter, shall be construed as restatements and continuations and not as new enactments.

31.10.030 Definitions.

(Amended by Ordinances 180917, 181956, 187748 and 190502, effective August 20, 2021.)

  1. A.  “Aerial Luminary Device” (commonly known as a sky lantern) is any device that has an open flame and which can be sent airborne or adrift.
  2. B.  “Building” is any structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy.
  3. C.  “Certificate of Fitness” means a written statement issued by the Fire Marshal certifying that the person to whom the certificate is issued has passed an examination as to their qualifications to perform the specifically identified work and that they have authority to perform such work during the term specified.
  4. D.  “Commercial Building” means any structure, tank or yard that is subject to regulation under applicable fire codes.  It includes any temporary structure or vehicle that is used for commercial purposes and is not moved for 60 days.  It includes occupancies on public and private property as well as on all other types of ownership.  It does not include one and two-family residential structures.
  5. E.  “Entity” includes a corporation, foreign corporation, nonprofit corporation, profit and nonprofit unincorporated association, business trust, estate, partnership, trust, sole proprietorship, individual, two or more persons having a joint or common economic interest, any state, the United States and any foreign government.
  6. F.  “Fee Schedule” means a listing of fees, penalties, discounts and other payments payable to the City of Portland for services or other requirements set forth in this Title, which is adopted by City Council.
  7. G.  “Fire Bureau” shall mean Portland Fire & Rescue.
  8. H.  “Fire Code” means the Oregon Fire Code, 2019 edition, with City of Portland Amendments.
  9. I.  “Fire Hazard” means any thing or act which increases or may cause an increase of the hazard or menace of fire to a greater degree than that customarily recognized as normal by persons in the public service regularly engaged in preventing, suppressing or extinguishing fire; or which may obstruct, delay, hinder or interfere with the operations of the Fire Bureau or the egress of occupants in the event of fire.
  10. J.  "Fire Regulations" means the statutes and administrative rules adopted by the State of Oregon and the Portland City Code adopted by the Council and the policies adopted under the authority granted under this Chapter to the Fire Marshal which are for the purpose of safeguarding life and property from the hazards of fire and explosion arising from the storage, handling and use of hazardous substances, materials and devices, and from conditions hazardous to life or property in the use or occupancy of buildings or premises.
  11. K.  “Key Box”, also known as a “lock box”, is a secure metal box used to hold keys for a specific site, to provide Fire Bureau personnel access to that site.
  12. L.  “Occupancy” means the activity in a building or on property outside a building where services or housing are provided or commodities are bought, sold, handled, manufactured or stored. A single business entity with multiple uses or activities in a building as defined by the Oregon Structural Specialty Code is considered one occupancy.  Any structure, yard or group of tanks outside a building such as tank farms, moorage and outside storage are considered one occupancy.  The definition includes individual businesses within a multiple occupancy commercial building but it does not include individual dwelling units within a multiple residential building.  The Oregon Structural Specialty Code shall define classification of all buildings and structures as to use and occupancy.
  13. M.  “Owner/occupant” means the owner, operator, occupant or entity legally responsible for a premise or the delivery of services or housing, or the buying, selling, handling, manufacture or storage of commodities, and/or the condition of the building.
  14. N.  “Periodic Inspection” means an inspection performed periodically by a member of the Fire Bureau for the purpose of determining that the entire occupancy is in compliance with the requirements of fire regulations.  A “periodic inspection” is also known as a “regular inspection” by the Fire Bureau.  It does not include specific requests for inspection.
  15. O.  “Permit” means a written permission of the Fire Marshal issued pursuant to the provisions of this Title.
  16. P.  Where terms are not defined through the methods authorized by this section, such terms shall have ordinarily accepted meanings such as the context implies.  Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language, Unabridged, copyright 1985, shall be considered as providing ordinary accepted meanings.

31.10.040 Organization.

(Amended by Ordinance 181956, effective June 25, 2008.)

  1. A.   The Fire Bureau shall administer the provisions of this Title unless otherwise specified in this Title.
  2. B.   The Fire Chief shall be responsible for all fire prevention efforts in the City and for enforcing the provisions of this Title or any subsequent amendments to the same.
  3. C.   The personnel of the Fire Prevention Division shall consist of a Fire Marshal and as many Deputy Chief Fire Marshals, Fire Captains, Senior Fire Inspectors, Fire Inspectors and other employees as may be allowed and provided by the Fire Chief and City Council. Such personnel may act to enforce provisions of this Title as assigned by the Fire Marshal. The Fire Marshal shall report directly to the Fire Chief.
  4. D.   There shall be, in the Fire Prevention Division of the Fire Bureau, a section designated as the "Fire and Arson Investigation Unit", which shall be considered a law enforcement unit of the City of Portland. Personnel assigned to this unit shall be designated peace officers, for fire and life safety purposes including determining the cause of fires, for detecting arson, and for enforcing this Code and any other codes, rules or regulations incorporated therein. This unit shall be charged with the enforcement of the criminal laws of the State of Oregon relating to the crimes of arson, reckless burning, insurance fraud, and other related crimes.

31.10.050 Authority.

(Amended by Ordinances 180514, 181956, 186247, 187748 and 190502, effective August 20, 2021.)

  1. A.  Rules and Regulations.  The Fire Marshal, with the approval of the Fire Chief, is authorized to make and enforce such rules, regulations and policies for the prevention and control of fires and fire hazards, as may be necessary to carry out the intent of this Title.
  2. B.  Adoption of Oregon State Statutes.  In order to obtain an exempt jurisdiction status from the State Fire Marshal, in accordance with ORS 476.030(3) from the statutes, rules and regulations administered by the State Fire Marshal, the City hereby adopts and incorporates into this title by reference the following provisions of the Oregon Revised Statutes:  162.225, 162.235, 162.375, 162.255, 476.005, 476.010, 476.150 through 476.290, 476.380, 476.715, 479.015 through 479.170, 479.190, 479.195, 479.210 through 479.300, 479.990(6), and all of ORS 480 except 480.350, 480.355, 480.375(2), 480.432 through 480.440.
  3. Where reference is made to the State Fire Marshal in the Oregon Revised Statutes in this Title, the term "City Fire Marshal" shall be substituted for it.
  4. C.  Adoption of Oregon State Administrative Rules, Fire Marshal Chapter 837.  In order to obtain an exemption in accordance with ORS 476.030(3) from the statutes, rules and regulations administered by the State Fire Marshal, the City hereby adopts and incorporates into this Title by reference the following administrative rules adopted by the State Fire Marshal:
    1. 1.  OAR 837 - Division 12, Public Display of Fireworks in Oregon
    2. 2.  OAR 837 - Division 20, Flammable and Combustible Liquids
    3. 3.  OAR 837 - Division 30, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Sections 837-030-0140 through 837-030-0180 and 837-030-0230
    4. 4.  OAR 837 – Division 40, Adoption of the Oregon Structural Specialty Code and Mechanical Special Code, Section 837-040-0140
    5. 5.  OAR 837 - Division 41, Fire Protection Regulations Relating to Existing Non-Conforming High Hazard Facilities - Exitway Protection
    6. 6.  OAR 837 - Division 45, Smoke Detectors
  5. Where reference is made in this Title to the State Fire Marshal in the Oregon State Fire Marshal Administrative Rules, the term "City Fire Marshal" shall be substituted for it.
  6. D.  Oregon Residential Specialty Code.  In order to allow alternative methods of fire protection for the development of one and two family dwellings, the City hereby adopts and incorporates into this Title by reference Oregon Administrative Rule 918-480-0100.
  7. E.  Adoption of Oregon Fire Code, 2019 Edition.  In addition to the provisions of this Title, and as a supplement thereto, in order to regulate those conditions hazardous to life and property from fire or explosion that are not specifically addressed by this Title, the City hereby adopts the 2019 Edition of the Oregon Fire Code with amendments.
  8. F.  Standards of the National Fire Protection Association.  When requested by a building owner, the Fire Marshal may use criteria from an edition of a National Fire Protection Association Standard that is more current than adopted by Chapter 45 of the 2019 Oregon Fire Code.
  9. G.  When the Oregon State Fire Marshal adopts amended National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standards, the Fire Marshal is authorized to enforce the amended standard.

31.10.060 Authority to Require Address Change.

  1. The Fire Marshal is authorized to require a property address change when, in the opinion of the Fire Marshal, the existing address may delay emergency response by emergency service providers.

31.10.070 Citations.

(Amended by Ordinances 180514 and 181956, effective June 25, 2008.)

  1. A.   Authority Established.
  2. If, after investigation, the Fire Marshal determines that a violation of this Title has occurred, and that the person, entity or owner/occupant committing the violation knew or should have known that the action was in violation of this Title, a citation may be issued to the person, entity or owner/occupant committing the violation. Citable violations include, but are not limited to:
    1. 1.   Failure to obtain a permit
    2. 2.   Failure to adhere to permit conditions
    3. 3.   Failure to adhere to assigned occupant load limit in assembly occupancy
    4. 4.   Exit blocked, obstructed
    5. 5.   Exit corridor or aisle obstructed or width reduced
    6. 6.   "Exit" sign missing or not working
    7. 7.   Fire extinguisher missing, discharged or wrong type
    8. 8.   Firefighting appliance blocked, obstructed or otherwise rendered unusable
    9. 9.   Fire alarm device or fire extinguishing system blocked, obstructed or otherwise rendered unusable
    10. 10.  Failure to use, maintain, store or secure propane bottle as required by this Title
    11. 11.  Performing work that requires a Certificate of Fitness without a valid certificate
    12. 12.  Assigning an employee to perform work that requires a Certificate of Fitness without a valid certificate
    13. 13.  Parking on a posted fire access road
    14. 14.  Blocking or obstructing any fire hydrant or fire department connection
    15. 15.  Conducting mobile fueling operation in violation of Fire Code regulations
    16. 16.  Possession or use of illegal fireworks
    17. 17.  Illegal storage of fireworks
    18. 18.  Illegal sale of fireworks
    19. 19.  Illegal commercial fireworks display
    20. 20.  Illegal occupancy in violation of International Building Code
    21. 21.  Burning in violation of Fire Code
    22. 22.  Repetitive false alarms in occupancies equipped with fire, smoke and/or water flow detection systems.
    23. 23.  Violations that would constitute or contribute to an immediate and/or imminent hazard to life and property
  3. B.   Each day a person, owner or occupant violates or fails to comply with a provision of this chapter may be considered a separate violation for which a citation may be issued.
  4. C.   Fines Authorized. Citations shall result in monetary fines as set forth in Fee Schedule adopted by City Council. Fines may escalate for two or more occurrences of the same or similar violations by the same person, owner or occupant within a four-year period. Fines may escalate for failure to pay within 30 days of issuance. The Fire Marshal may suspend 1/2 of any citation fine, providing the person, owner or occupant cited agrees in writing to immediately cease and/or abate the violation. If the person, owner or occupant is found to be in violation of the same or similar violation within a four year period, the original fine may be reinstated and shall be in addition to any other fine authorized by this title.
  5. D.   Citation Process. Citation shall be delivered as would reasonably be expected to provide notice, including in person, by certified mail or posted conspicuously on property. Citation shall include:
    1. 1.   Name and address of person, owner or occupant being cited
    2. 2.   A description of the property where the violation occurred
    3. 3.   Date(s) of the violation
    4. 4.   Reference to the particular code(s) violated
    5. 5.   A statement explaining actions required of person, owner or occupant being cited
    6. 6.  A statement of applicable monetary penalty, and
    7. 7.  A statement of the right to appeal the citation

31.10.080 Appeals.

(Amended by Ordinance 190502, effective August 20, 2021.)

  1. A.  Standing for Appeals.  The following persons, owners or occupants, herein called appellants, may submit an appeal as described in this Title:
    1. 1.  Any person, owner or occupant who has been ordered by the Fire Marshal to incur any expense under any provision of this Title;
    2. 2.  Any person, owner or occupant who has been cited by the Fire Marshal for violation of any provision of this Title:
    3. 3.  Any person, owner or occupant whose application for a permit or approval under this Title has been refused by the Fire Marshal;
    4. 4.  Any person, owner or occupant whose special case is not specifically covered by this Title.
  2. B.  Board of Appeals.  The Fire Code Board of Appeals, having been established, is hereby continued.
    1. 1.  The Board shall consist of three members, and an alternate for each member.  Each member and alternate shall serve a term of three years.  The Mayor shall appoint and may remove any member or alternate from the Board at any time. 
    2. 2.  Board members and alternates must by experience and training in building construction, building operations or fire protection systems, be qualified to pass on the provisions of this Title as they affect the interest of the City as a whole.  No two members or alternates shall be engaged in the same business, profession or occupation.  No member or alternate shall be an officer, official or employee of the City.
    3. 3.  No member or alternate shall hear or act on a matter in which they have any interest, direct or indirect, pecuniary or otherwise.  In the event of such an interest, the member’s alternate shall hear and determine the matter.
    4. 4.  The Board annually shall elect a Chairman from among the three members of the Board.  Meetings of the Board shall be held at the call of the Chairman, who shall call meetings at the Fire Marshal’s request.
  3. C.  Appeal Procedure.
    1. 1.  Appellant shall serve written notice of appeal on the Fire Marshal no more than ten days after the Fire Marshal’s order or action. The notice of appeal shall be in such form as specified by the Fire Marshal, and shall be accompanied by appeal fee.
    2. 2.  The Fire Marshal may approve, approve with conditions or deny the requested relief.  The decision of the Fire Marshal, with a brief statement for its basis, shall be transmitted to the appellant in writing.  If the appellant is not satisfied with the decision, the appellant may, within ten days after notice, serve written notice on the Fire Marshal requesting a hearing before the Fire Code Board of Appeals.
    3. 3.  The Fire Marshal shall transmit copies of the notice of appeal to the Board of Appeals and to the Commissioner-in-Charge.  Not less than 10 days prior to the date of the hearing, the Board shall mail notice of the date, time and place of the hearing to the appellant, by certified mail, return receipt requested.
    4. 4.  After the hearing, the Board may by a majority vote, affirm, annul or modify the action of the Fire Marshal provided any modification of a strict application of this Title shall be made only on condition that a substantially equivalent degree of safety is provided and is generally conforming to national standards concerning fire prevention, fire safety measures and building construction requirements for safety.  The decision of the Board interpreting the provisions of this Title may be by a majority vote of the Board.  The Board shall deliver a certified copy of its decision to the appellant.
    5. 5.  Where unquestionably and clearly, practical difficulties, unnecessary hardship or consequences inconsistent with the general purposes of this Title may result from the literal interpretation and enforcement thereof, the Board of Appeals may grant variances from this Title, in a specific case with such conditions and safeguards as the Board may determine, in harmony with the general purpose, intent and spirit of this Title, so that the public safety and welfare shall be secured and substantial justice shall be done.  The grant of a variance shall be by unanimous vote of the Board.
    6. 6.  The Board of Appeals shall submit to the Council on or before the first day of August of each year a report summarizing its decisions for the preceding fiscal year together with its recommendations for amendments to this Title.

31.10.090 Remedies.

  1. In enforcing any of the requirements of this Title, the Fire Marshal may gain compliance by:
  2. A.  Instituting a proceeding before the Code Hearings Officer as set out in Title 22 of the City Code; or
  3. B.  Causing appropriate action to be instituted in a court of competent jurisdiction; or
  4. C.  Taking such other action as the Fire Marshal, in the exercise of the Fire Marshal’s discretion, deems appropriate.

31.10.100 Waivers and Adjustments.

(Amended by Ordinance 181956, effective June 25, 2008.)

  1. A.   Commissioner-in-Charge of the Fire Bureau is authorized to waive any fees, fines and penalties in this Title based on guidelines established by the Commissioner. The authority to waive fees, fines and penalties based on the established guidelines may be delegated to the Fire Marshal.
  2. B.   At the discretion of the supervisor in charge of customer accounts, account balances may be zeroed out if that balance represents only residual unpaid principal, interest or penalties.

31.10.110 Collections.

(Amended by Ordinance 181956, effective June 25, 2008.)

  1. A.   The City may bring legal action to collect any fee, fine, penalty or interest provided for in this Title and assessed by a Fire Bureau member.
  2. B.   Accounts with amounts 91 days or more past due will be handled according to the collection policy established by the Fire Bureau; this may include use of a professional collection agency. Fees imposed by collection agency may be added onto the current fee liability of the account. Invoices returned by the U.S. Postal Service as "refused" or payments returned by a financial institution for insufficient funds will be considered delinquent and subject to immediate collection actions.

31.10.120 Rewards.

(Amended by Ordinance 181956, effective June 25, 2008.)

  1. A.   Fund Authorized. The Fire Chief, in consultation with the Commissioner-in-Charge, is authorized to establish a reward fund to assist with investigations of violations of this Title. Such fund may include up to $1000 of Bureau budget allocations as well as donations from individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations.
  2. B.   Reward Fund Disbursements. The Fire Marshal may, in consultation with the Fire Chief and Commissioner-in-Charge:
    1. 1.   Contribute funds to other public agencies or non-profit organizations to facilitate the investigation of specific arson crimes;
    2. 2.   Offer and disburse rewards directly to individuals, except as limited by this Title, who have assisted with the investigation or prosecution of a violation of this Title.
  3. C.   A reward under the provisions of this Code shall not be paid to any United States, State, County, or municipal officer or employee. Bounty hunters are not entitled to rewards under this Chapter.

31.10.130 Request for Records.

(Amended by Ordinance 181956, effective June 25, 2008.)

  1. A.   Upon written application, under the Public Records Law, accompanied by the fee adopted by the City Council, the Fire Marshal may furnish copies of fire incident reports, non-confidential fire investigation reports, fire prevention inspection reports and other bureau-related information. If there is no copy on file, the fee will not be refunded.
  2. B.   Nothing in this section shall be construed as applying to any City, County, State or Federal agency, or subdivision thereof, or any nationally recognized nonprofit agency engaged in the suppression or prevention of fire.

Upcoming and Recent Changes

Ordinance Number 190502

Effective Date