City of San Diego Fire Alarm Retrofit Requirement 


A change in state fire code that has been in place for years but virtually unknown is now creating a costly retrofit requirement for many property owners. Legislation was recently passed that requires local fire departments to inspect more residential rentals and provide reports of those inspections to the state. This has triggered the City of San Diego to enforce on the fire alarm mandate.  

Many property owners and managers in the City of San Diego have had a fire inspection and been notified that they must install a fire alarm system at their property. Some SCRHA members have expressed concerns that fines would be issued before they could comply. The City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is keenly aware that this is unchartered territory and a costly mandate for some. That is why inspectors will “sign off” on an inspection so long as a property owner/manager has initiated the permit process by hiring a contractor who will submit plans to the Development Services Department (DSD). That process should be started within one year from the date of the inspection. The actual retrofit does not have to be completed in that first year. However, housing providers must demonstrate they are taking steps towards completion. Inspectors will also consider hardships and delays such as waiting on a permit number or plan approval prior to issuing fines.

SCRHA has compiled resources to help property owners and managers navigate the process. 

You may also visit the California Automatic Fire Alarm Association for a directory. For more information on the specific building retrofit requirements, please contact: 

Scott Heyworth, P.E. 
Senior Fire Protection Engineer 
City of San Diego - Development Services Department