Fire inspector becoming a home inspector

Hello everyone,

My husband and I are currently attending classes to become certified home inspectors in Nevada. I am currently a municipal fire inspector (AHJ). Is it a conflict of interest for me to inspect homes within the city I work? For example, we learned that home inspections are not code inspections…but if I see code issues on a home inspection, am I required to report it since I have authority there as a code inspector? Another example would be if I see issues with the fire sprinklers…that is outside of the standards but would I be required to report/follow up as a fire inspector? I just don’t want any legal issues or extra liability. Thanks for any advice!

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You shouldn’t run into any legal issues as long as you don’t intertwine the two jobs. At least not from the HI end. I’m not sure if there’s something in your licensing or SOPs as a fire/code inspector that require you to cite something if you see it? I can’t imagine that’s the case though since you couldn’t go out to dinner without writing something up.


Our local AJH prohibits their inspectors from citing code violations outside the context of the current inspection.

I can’t imagine you have a mandatory reporting requirement except in the context of the fire job.

That said a conversation with the legal department at the City seems in order.

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As for inspecting in your jurisdiction you would need to speak with your management to determine if they have any rules against it. Here in Texas some municipalities prevent AHJ Inspectors from doing that.

As for legal issues and liabilities that may be determined by the following.

  • Most importantly how you advertise your services. If you advertise your current job in any form as a qualification for this job it can be misleading to consumers. They can easily expect that you will be performing the functions as a fire inspector as well or at least use your past experience not to miss anything that may have fallen into your current job requirements.
  • The second legal aspect is how well you have written your contract, and you should never work without one. You need to ensure that your Home Inspection function and responsibilities are clearly delineated. Any confusion there can compound with the consumers confusion as to what you are there to inspect.

Beyond that the only way to limit your liability is to properly perform the job to the best of your abilities and do it consistently. Consistency in job perform also includes pre and post inspection activities. You can never totally remove liability but you can significantly limit it.


All inspectors will gravitate toward their strengths which has varieties of advantages and disadvantages.

Just remember that a home inspector is a generalist who does nothing but provide a written description of a structure and its systems on the date and at the time it was inspected. As such, the inspector is equally accountable for what he excludes as what he includes. This means, if an inspector should ignore his SOP to include fire code violations in his descriptions (because he knows the fire code) but omits IBC code violations for roofing and siding, IMC code violations for HVAC duct work, and other code violations, he exposes himself to vulnerability that compliance with his SOP is designed to protect him from and help him avoid.

Fire fighters know all about slippery slopes and how to avoid them while getting the job done. So do home inspectors who stay in business with minimum risk to their personal assets.


What hat will you be wearing when you do home inspections? What hat will you be wearing working for the city? Having extended knowledge is good, but be careful on exceeding what you are allowed to do.

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(c) Home inspectors shall not:

  1. Offer or perform any act or service contrary to law; or
  2. Offer or perform engineering, architectural, plumbing, electrical or any other job function requiring a license in this state for the same client unless the client is advised thereof and consents thereto.

This is from Tn (and several other states).
As others have wisely advised above, check with your boss and the HI commission (if you have one) .

It not only restricts, but allows.

(C) This rule does not limit home inspectors from:

  1. Reporting observations and conditions or rendering opinions of items in addition to those required in paragraphs (7) through (16) of this rule; or
  2. Excluding systems and components from the inspection if requested by the client, and so stated in the written contract.

(6) General Exclusions.
(a) Home inspectors are not required to report on:
5. Compliance or non-compliance with adopted codes, ordinances, statutes,
regulatory requirements or restrictions;

  1. Opinions expressed by licensees shall only be based on their education, experience, and honest convictions.

These are a few examples of the HI Rules that you may be expected to adhere to. You need to know them as they apply to you.

Many inspectors here come from other walks of life and have more insight in some areas, but you must remember that in HI you have no enforcement authority. So there is no reason you should feel compelled to cite a local code in your inspection report. When you step outside the HI Standards, you open yourself to liability issues. To whom? The seller for one. Consider your Insurance policy, which may not cover you for things you do outside of the HI SOP. You are allowed into the house by the seller to conduct a home inspection. If you go outside that expectation, you they may have something to say about that, in court.

Fire standards are all about safety. So is the HI Report. Talking about issues is fine. When your report demands action, your out of bounds.

As pointed out, you can not use your position in your day job to advertise your personal business.

Learn these rules verbatim. It is critical in this job.
Some other considerations for your position to consider:

(a) The home inspector shall inspect:
8. Smoke detectors.

  1. Hot water systems including: water heating equipment; normal operating> controls; automatic safety controls; and chimneys, flues, and vents; and

(d) The home inspector is not required to:
(ii) Fire and lawn sprinkler systems

  1. For the presence or condition of buried fuel storage tanks.


(3) A licensee shall not disclose any information about the results of an inspection without the approval of the client for whom the inspection was performed, or the client’s designated representative

(7) Before the execution of a contract to perform a home inspection, a licensee shall disclose to the client any interest in a business that may affect the client. No licensee shall allow his or her interest in any business to affect the quality or results of the inspection work that the licensee may be called upon to perform.


Thank you everyone for your responses and advice! I will be speaking with my management and I do like the idea of having something specific in our contract if possible to differentiate the two duties for liability.

Be careful with the wording, as it could backfire and actually cause more liability. As always, you should have your Attorney review your contract to be correct and legal in the area/City/State(s) you operate in.


Not required.

Have you ever signed a contract that said “I promise not to break the law, or screw you over some way”?

It is implied that you will do what is right.
You do this by following the Standards and Ethics of your profession.

These things have been around and stood the test of time. You have more experience and education is some areas, but you still need to operate within the expectations of a Home Inspector. It should not have any affect on working as a HI as there is no reason for conflict of interest. You have no financial interest in the property you inspect. You do not solicit home inspections while conducting Fire Code enforcement do you? Are you going to run to your day job and go back to the home inspection and cite the homeowner? I hope not, because it violates Ethics (3) I posted above,


Another problem is of course which code was in effect at time of construction? Additionally, if you apply code to one defect…then what about all the other “code offenses” you decided not to report on or missed. Also, code violations may indicate a level of priority in your report when how a component is performing or safety is omnipotent. I see a slippery slope. This increases if you are inspecting outside your normal jurisdiction.

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Let’s make this simpler. Why are you seeking to become a Home Inspector? it is that simple…!

What is the problem with doing your HI job as a Home Inspector? Period…!

When you leave the Station to take your assignment as a HI, that’s what you do, HI stuff…!

If you come into my house as a HI, under a HI contract, to do a HI job… and you try to ‘pull a fire inspector’ drill to me, You are fired…!!

Now, you can generously volunteer your expertise to me ‘on the side’ to ‘help me’… That approach will win you a “market differentiator”… but don’t you try to sneak into my dwelling ‘undercover’…

We HIs have diverse backgrounds, engineering, building, plumbing, electricity, former police officers, fire fighters, nursing, teaching… but if we get hired for $400 to do a Home Inspection, That is what we are going to do…!

Stick to that and the HI SOPs and you will be perfectly fine…!!

Now, if during the inspection some one falls in the floor and is having a heart attack… and you know how to perform a CPR, just do it…!! Save their life and be humble about it…!!

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Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear enough as some people seem to be offended by my question? I’m not saying I WANT to write up anyone for a code violation, I’m not interested in doing that at all. My question was, if I do see something during an inspection (say a house with no smoke alarms or a cut fire sprinkler line or whatever) if someone dies the next day in that house and I didn’t mention it, is someone going to say “she’s a fire inspector and she was there yesterday”. I’m not looking to write anyone up, I hate writing people up for code stuff. I just want to know that if I am aware of a safety violation then don’t follow up as a fire inspector, am I liable?

You don’t need to follow up as a Fire Inspector. As Home Inspectors we are allowed to share our opinions if we notice something that may be a “safety concern”. This is one reason why our clients hire us… for our professional opinions.
Like I shared above… just be careful with your wording and you will be fine.

Yes, you did. There are just some here that either have no English comprehension skills, or they just don’t care enough to pay attention to what others are saying. My advice is to just ignore them and do not acknowledge them with a reply. They’ll go away soon enough.


Are you liable if you enter a movie theater on your time off and do not cite the blocked fire exit? I think the answer lies in there somewhere. No one was offended, we are just cranky most of the time :smile: :smile:


I think this could have been taken more than one way. Report what to whom? Code violations to the authorities or report the defect to your client? I picked up on the latter.


I always mention fire alarms in my reports as this is a safety issue. I don’t test the alarms, but I always tell my clients to test them every six months and replace every 10 years or according to manufacturers recommendation. My thought is that if you do go above the SOP, as I hope most of us do, make sure you do it with every client. Some home inspectors have been or are plumbers so I would expect plumbing would be something they would be more atuned to. If a home inspector has experience in building foundations then, as a consumer, I would think that a foundation is something they would scrutinize much more than other parts. As a city fire code inspector, I would expect you would be more conscientious about fire codes. I would appreciate that expertise if you were to inspect my house. I think it’s something you could use to set yourself apart from other home inspectors. We all have a something special to offer. Why not make that as yours?


InterNachi used to have this paragraph in their Pre-Inspection Agreement, but I don’t see it anymore. It may still be there, but with all the BS they’ve added to CYA (someone’s arses) it’s too cluttered to find anything!!

Anyway, this could be easily adjusted to include ‘Fire Inspector’.
As always, seek the advice of your Attorney with all legal Business Documents!


Thank you, I appreciate the kind feedback and advice. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I agree, thank you for your response and encouragement!