An open letter from the Community Risk Reduction Bureau,

I never have a fire – Why do I need the fire department? I pay a lot of taxes and I do not see any benefit to me.

Think of the fire department like an insurance policy. You pay toward the policy, hoping you never need it, but have that peace-of-mind that we will be there in your time of need.  And, like an insurance policy, you need to know what you are getting for your money.

The number one priority in this job is life safety. We will do all we can to save a life, from a fire or on an EMS call. That is our first and most important priority.

Our number two priority is the preservation of property. In your home – that would include your cherished belongings such as pictures and keepsakes. In your business, this would be valuable records, computer systems and saleable stock.

The Sylvania Fire-EMS Department uses the International Association of Fire Chiefs risk assessment and management guide for our risk assessment at the scene of a fire or other emergency, helping reduce needless firefighter death and injury.

  • We will risk our lives a lot, in a calculated manner, to save SAVABLE lives.
  • We will risk our lives a little, in a calculated manner, to save SAVABLE property.
  • We will Not risk our lives at all for lives or property that are already lost.

The job of life safety and property preservation actually starts with our fire prevention/risk reduction programs in the community. Through fire safety inspections in our commercial businesses, schools, hospitals, day-care centers and industrial buildings, and our risk reduction safety education programs presented throughout the community, the fire department is working diligently to keep our community safe from fire and promote a healthy lifestyle to our citizens.

Having a community that is prepared for disaster is a community that survives and grows. Preparing for a fire or disaster is paramount for a business. According to a study by Michigan State University and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 47% of businesses that experience a major fire or theft go out of business, 44% of companies that lose records in a disaster never resume business and 93% of companies that experience a significant data loss are out of business within five years. If an organization is fortunate enough to survive a disaster without a plan for recovery, it will not survive unscathed. Aside from the direct revenue losses incurred during the failure (fire, theft, disaster), the organization will also suffer intangible costs such as cash flow interruption, loss of customers, loss of competitive edge, erosion of image and reduced market share.

Being prepared. That is the job of the fire department to be able to assist you in your time of need. The goal of Fire Prevention/Risk Reduction is to assist businesses in reducing hazards that could contribute to starting a fire or cause an injury by preforming annual fire safety inspections. These inspections are required by law. The ultimate goal is to prevent a fire or hazardous condition from happening in the first place.

“I never thought it could happen to me”. These are words we do not want to hear, because they are words from someone who was not prepared.


Fire Marshal Shane Hillard

Fire Prevention / Community Risk Reduction

The Fire Prevention / Community Risk Reduction Bureau is under the direction of the Fire Marshal. The bureau is charged with three major tasks: 1) fire code enforcement, which includes the annual fire inspection of all commercial and institutional occupancies, and building plan review of new or revised construction, 2) public safety and prevention education, and 3) fire investigation.

Code enforcement is primarily completed through building inspections, on an annual basis, which are completed by the on-duty Engine and Truck Company crews. Having these crews complete fire safety inspections allows them to become more familiar with the buildings in the fire district, which helps them when responding to them for an emergency.  These inspections help keep the residents of Sylvania safe by ensuring our area businesses are free of fire code violations and hazards. While conducting these inspections, fire department personnel may verify proper maintenance of fire protection equipment and the operation of fixtures such as smoke detectors, fire alarm systems and emergency lighting equipment.

If you are a commercial building owner or business occupant in the City of Sylvania or Sylvania Township, you can expect a fire department inspector to visit your facility approximately once a year. This annual inspection is intended to support the building owner or occupant’s responsibility to maintain a fire code violation free business, and thereby we will all enjoy a safer Sylvania!


The Sylvania Fire-Ems Department participates in the national Knox Box® program and the new Knox HomeBox® program. The Ohio Fire Code allows the local fire department the option to require a key box on the property of a business. This is to allow the fire department access after-hours to gain entry to check on a fire alarm or sprinkler water-flow alarm without having to cause damage by “breaking-in”. The Knox Box® system is a secure key box that you purchase and place on your building at a location acceptable to the fire department. The local fire department is the only entity to have a key for this box. If needed, they can enter your building to check on an alarm without causing damage. There are Knox HomeBox® key boxes for residential occupancies also. The keys kept by your Sylvania Fire Department are secured in the fire engines and can only be accessed by our firefighters with a passcode which logs the time and name of who has accessed a key. Contact Knox Box  or Knox HomeBox to order.

If you have further questions, please give us a call. 419-882-7676 or email Fire Marshal Shane Hillard.

Sylvania Township, which includes the City of Sylvania, uses the 2017 Ohio Fire Code as the local Fire Code. With the adoption of this code, the Sylvania Fire-Ems Department requires a permit and charges fees for certain activities. Permits are required and fees charged for tent and burn permits as well as for plan review for building construction, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems and commercial kitchen hood suppression systems.
The Fire-Ems department is also charging non-compliance fees for commercial building inspections. The initial fire safety inspection is free. If fire code violations are found, a return re-inspection is required.  If the fire code violations are found corrected, there will not be a fee. If the violations still exist, a $50.00 fee will be charged. When fire inspectors return again and the violations continue to exist, another fee is charged and the fire department will contact the prosecutor’s office to start legal action.
Multiple alarm system malfunctions are also charged a fee. After 3 responses to a malfunctioning fire alarm within a one year time period, any subsequent responses that are determined to be a system malfunction will be charged.
All charges are at the discretion of the Sylvania Township Fire Department.
Open burning in Ohio is regulated by the Fire Code and Ohio EPA. The open burning laws have changed over the years and we would like to give a brief overview of the requirements. The fire code regulating open burning in Ohio is listed below.Only clean seasoned firewood can be burned. It is illegal to burn anything else without a permit from the Ohio EPA and the Fire Department.

If you wish to have a campfire, the fire code allows this as long as the fire is a minimum of 25 feet from a building or combustible material as well as a fence or property line, the wood stack size must not be larger than 2 feet high by 3 feet wide, the fire must be constantly attended and you must have a way to control or extinguish the fire immediately available. If the fire emits smoke that becomes objectionable or offensive, or atmospheric conditions make the fire hazardous, the fire code mandates the fire be extinguished. A permit from the EPA and the fire department is required for any fires larger than a campfire, such as a bon fire.

If you have any questions, please call your Sylvania Fire Department at 419-882-7676.

OPEN BURNING – Ohio Fire Code

OPEN BURN Ohio EPA before yo light it – 2011

If you are planning an addition or remodeling to your existing building, or are planning on constructing a new building, you must have your construction documents reviewed and approved by the fire department, zoning department and building department.
When you are planning to have work done to your building, have architectural plans drawn up and submit one complete set of drawings (digital copy preferred), to the Fire-Ems department for review. The Zoning office in the City of Sylvania or Township of Sylvania (depending on the political jurisdiction the building is in) also will need a set of the plans. Please contact them for any other requirements. Finally, Lucas County Building Department will need 2 sets of plans for your work. The Fire-Ems department will review your plans for code compliance (we use the Ohio Fire Code). We then will send a comment letter to the Zoning Department of the appropriate jurisdiction and the County building department, with any concerns and codes that were not addressed in the plans. (please include a contact email address and I will send my comment letter as well).
One item the Fire-Ems department does require for any new buildings or remodel projects where there is a fire alarm sprinkler system or suppression system, a Knox Box be installed (Ohio Fire Code #506.1). This secure box contains a key you supply to the fire department which allows the fire fighters to enter the building without having to break-in a door or window, causing damage, to investigate an alarm activation or if we believe entry is needed to investigate a possible fire.
If you have any questions about plan review from the fire department, please email or call Fire Marshal Shane Hillard.


Can a resident of the city or township have their home inspected?
Yes. The fire department also performs residential home fire inspections.  If a resident would like an inspector to evaluate the safety of a house they can call the fire department and set up an appointment for an inspector to come out.  We will do the inspection with you, making suggestions on how one might make their home safer and to point out fire hazards that the homeowner may not be aware of.

Does the fire department provide the service of checking smoke detectors?
Yes. Again, at the request of the homeowner, a member of the fire department or an Engine crew will come out to check smoke detectors.  Senior citizens and handicapped individuals are the ones that most often use this service.  The department will check for proper operation of the detector and in some cases even replace the battery or the entire smoke detector if it is over 10 years old.  It is important to test your smoke detector at least once a month, clean your detector at least once a year, and replace the battery annually.  Citizens can also contact the fire department if they have a question on the proper placement of a smoke detector. If you are a Sylvania City or Township resident and do not have a smoke detector, please contact the fire department. We will install one or more for you as needed. Give us a call right away. We do not want to see any homes in our Sylvania community without this device that could help save your life. 419-882-7676.

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