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Section 11 - Building Code Permits, Fire Codes, Zoning and Licenses



Requirements -
Federal, state and local governments regulate and tax businesses for several reasons, such as raising revenues, protecting the public from dangerous substances and fraud, and protecting businesses from unfair or illegal competition. If you are starting a business, you will want to determine in advance the licenses, permits, filing requirements and taxes required by various agencies. It can be very frustrating when trying to purchase supplies, applying for a loan, or filing a tax return, to find out that you need some type of business permit or I.D. number.

Some of the most common requirements needed in North Dakota are a sales tax permit for retail sales from the state tax department, operating licenses by type of business, and registering trade names and filing articles of incorporation with the secretary of state. Additional requirements which may be in effect if employees are hired include: obtaining employer identification number from the IRS, state and federal income tax withholding, F.I.C.A. (Social Security) withholding tax, unemployment insurance and worker's compensation.   There may also be local guidelines regulating business activities, such as the use of advertising signs, lighting, parking, etc. in cities and counties that have zoning ordinances in designated areas.  Town residents, especially, should know about local ordinances before making any major investment in the business. In some residential neighborhoods, it may be possible to have the area spot-zoned for your home business.

A zoning use permit is needed when making significant renovations or additions to your home to accommodate the business (changing from residential to commercial use) or if the commercial use of the building is changed. The permit is required so the building can be certified safe for the operation of the business and the safety of your customers. Building permits, especially in cities and towns, are required when erecting a new building or remodeling an existing one. Local and state building inspectors should be contacted to determine the building code requirements.

Zoning and Fire Codes - Most cities and counties differ to some degree on their zoning laws. It is important to become acquainted with restrictions and/or special requirements that exist in your residential area. The fact is these fire and life safety requirements are applicable to any residential facility which has a "change of use": i.e., any place where the original intended "use" of a home or similar property is changed. Change in use is the defining factor. For an example, if your current "single family private residence" contains five (5) bedrooms and you decide to start renting several of these rooms out to overnight guests, you have now, "changed the use" from a single family private dwelling to that of a "tourist home". This same "change of use" could apply to remote cabin sites, dude ranches and other locations where the owner is "renting" sleeping rooms to transient guests. As a result, additional fire and life safety requirements must be incorporated into the residence. Don't be surprised if the zoning officials are not aware of these restrictions and/or special requirements. The most important thing to remember is that if you "change the use" of the property, you are required to check into what rules and regulations may apply to the proposed new property. If you are proposing to convert your existing home or another existing home located elsewhere or if you are proposing to construct a new Bed & Breakfast"/Tourist Home"/"Dude Ranch", etc., you must contact the local official responsible for providing fire protection to the area. If this individual cannot provide you with the information you seek, you must contact the North Dakota State Fire Marshall's Office at 701-328-5555.  Website address: http://www.ag.nd.gov/FM/FM.htm. Minimal Fire and Life Safety requirements are required at ALL facilities which provide sleeping rooms to transient guests. Permits and/or licenses for such facilities are issued by other state agencies but are dependent upon a "positive" inspection report from the North Dakota State Fire Marshall or local fire official. These requirements are applicable at ALL facilities which "rent" or provide sleeping rooms to tourist and include all "R" (residential) type occupancies. Examples of "residential" type facilities are: Dwellings, Congregate residences, Lodging Houses, Tourist Homes, Dormitories, Dude Ranches (including individual cabins), Church camps, Retreat facilities, etc. (These are all places where people may sleep). If you are unsure where you would fit into this area, by all means contact the State Fire Marshall for clarification.    Knowledge beforehand saves time and money.

GUIDELINES FOR REQUESTING ASSISTANCE FROM THE STATE FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE
The State Fire Marshal's Office (website: http://www.ag.nd.gov/FM/FM.htm) is a support agency to assist the local fire official in determining the cause and origin of fires. A deputy fire marshal will be made available when requested by the local fire/law enforcement official.    
When should you call?
When you want assistance in:  
**Investigating large dollar loss fires.
**Investigating fires involving fatalities or serious injuries.
**Determining the fire cause.    
How soon can you expect help?
**
A deputy fire marshal will call you to gather information shortly after your request. An arrival time will be discussed.   
What do you do prior to our arrival?
**
Secure the scene until a deputy fire marshal arrives.
**Use local law enforcement if necessary.   
How to contact us:
**
During regular business hours call either the Bismarck office or a regional deputy
**After hours call State Radio -911- website: http://www.nd.gov/des/state-radio/
**Provide your name, title, agency, city, and county.
**Explain that you are in need of the State Fire Marshal's Office assistance at a fire investigation.
**The appropriate deputy fire marshal will be notified to contact you.
**Leave a telephone number where you can be reached also.

Guidelines can be found on the State Fire Marshal's Office Website: http://www.ag.nd.gov/FM/FM.htm
Fire Departments/Districts Statewide list - http://www.ag.nd.gov/FM/FireDepart.pdf

MAJOR FUNCTIONS AND DUTIES
Determine cause and origin of fires;  Compile fire incident reports from across the state and generate statistics to enhance fire prevention efforts; Inspect public facilities for means and adequacy of exits in case of fire; The types of facilities inspected include childcare centers, schools, and public assemblies; Enforce laws relating to the installation and maintenance of fire extinguishing equipment and the storage and handling of flammable liquids, explosives, and liquefied petroleum gas; Provide on-scene emergency assistance for safe mitigation of hazardous materials releases;  and develop and deliver training programs for arson detection, hazardous materials incident response, fire prevention, and code enforcement.

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