Skip to main content

Building / Construction FAQs

Is my driveway or private road a fire apparatus access road?

A fire apparatus access roadway must extend to within 150 feet of all portions of a building or structure.  This applies to both public and private roadways, driveways, etc.  It is especially relevant when building a home on a large parcel where the home will be se​​t back a large distance from the roadway.

What are the requirements for a fire apparatus access road?

  • 16 feet wide when serving 1-2 parcels with single-family dwellings.
    20 feet wide when serving 3-8 parcels with single-family dwellings.
    24 feet wide when serving 9 or more parcels with single family dwellings.
  • 13 feet 6 inches of unobstructed vertical clearance.
  • 20% maximum grade.  However, any grade or portion of grade over 15% requires concrete with a deep broom finish perpendicular to the direction of travel.
    The surface shall be designed to support the imposed loads of fire apparatus (not less than 75,000 lbs.), and shall have an improved surface so as to provide all-weather driving capabilities.  For specifics, please refer to the County of San Diego Parking Design Manual.

We have the authority to increase fire apparatus access road minimums where necessary for emergency access and public safety.

Does my fire apparatus access road require a turnaround or turnouts?

Diagram showing hammerhead and cul-de-sac turnarounds

Any dead-end fire apparatus access road greater than 150 feet in length requires an approved area for turning around emergency apparatus. 

Any fire apparatus access road longer than 600 feet serving 8 or fewer parcels with single-family dwellings requires a turnout every 400 feet. 

This graphic, along with additional information, can be found in the 2020 Consolidated Fire Code.

Are there any setback requirements in addition to the minimum determined by the County Zoning Ordinance?

We may require setbacks greater than the minimum setbacks determined by the County Zoning Ordinance if we determine special hazards or conditions exist.

The setback may be up to 30 feet from the property lines unless existing permitted buildings and/or structures are located within 30 feet of the property line.

When a property line abuts a roadway, the setback is measured from the centerline of the roadway.

We may require a minimum setback of 100 feet for any buildings and/or structures adjacent to a national forest, state park, or open-space preserve.

Single-story buildings and structures shall have a minimum setback of 15 feet measured horizontally from the top of the slope to the farthest projection from a roof.  Single-story buildings and structures shall be less than 12 feet above grade.

Two-story buildings and structures shall have a minimum setback of 30 feet measured horizontally from the top of the slope to the farthest projection from a roof.

Buildings and structures greater than two stories may require a greater setback when the slope is greater than 2 to 1.

Do I need to install a fire sprinkler system?

Yes, all new structures are required to have an approved fire sprinkler system with the exception of:

  • Accessory dwelling units (ADU’s/granny flats/casitas), where the existing residence does not have a fire sprinkler system, are not required to have a fire sprinkler system.
  • U occupancies (outbuildings, detached garages, sheds, stables, agricultural buildings, etc.) less than 500 square feet and separated from adjacent buildings and property lines by more than 10 feet.
  • Agricultural buildings constructed of wood or metal framing over which fabric or similar material is stretched, which are specifically used as greenhouses, are exempt unless connected to other buildings.

Do I need to install a fire sprinkler system when building an addition?

Yes, you are required to install an approved fire sprinkler system in the entire building if the addition is more than 50% of the existing square footage, or we determine special hazards or conditions exist that require mitigation.

Do I need to install a fire sprinkler system when remodeling a building?

Yes, if we determine the remodel includes significant modification to the interior or roof, we may require protective measures including a fire sprinkler system.

Do I need to install a fire sprinkler system on a commercial tenant improvement?

Yes, if there is a change in the occupancy classification, occupant load, special hazard, or significant work being done to the building, we may require protective measures including the installation of a fire sprinkler system or changes to an existing a fire sprinkler system.  Other fire protection systems may be required as well.

Is my property in a fire hazard severity zone? 

Search here

If my property is in a fire hazard severity zone, what should I do?

New buildings located in very-high fire severity zones must comply with the CBC, Chapter 7A and CRSC, Chapter 12-7A building codes.

For example, exterior windows shall comply with one of the following:

  • Be dual pane, with a minimum of one tempered pane meeting applicable requirements.
  • Be constructed of glass block.
  • Have a fire-resistance rating of not less than 20 minutes.
  • Be otherwise conforming to the requirements of SFM Standard 12-7A-2.

Do I need to install a fire hydrant?

If you are building a single-family dwelling on a vacant lot, a fire hydrant must be located less than 600 feet from all portions of the building or structure as measured by an approved route.  A fire hydrant located 75 feet away, but down an embankment or over a fence does not meet this requirement.

Can my community / HOA install speed bumps / humps?

It is our District’s policy to oppose the installation of all types of speed control features on both public and private roads.  This includes speed bumps, humps, dips, etc.  It is our determination that such design features delay the response time of emergency vehicles.  The negative impact of this delay on the welfare of our residents outweighs any potential benefit to public safety.