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State Fire Marshal’s Office rolls out electronic plans review


Effort to reduce costs for architects, engineers

NASHVILLE – The State Fire Marshal’s Office’s (SFMO) process for reviewing architects’ and engineers’ drawings for compliance with construction safety codes has just gotten easier and less expensive, with the implementation of an online portal application.

The new electronic plans review system allows for plans, documents and review fees to be submitted over the Internet. The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance’s SFMO enforces fire and building construction safety codes for certain types of buildings. For these occupancies, an architect’s or engineer’s design drawings are submitted for review and approval by the State before construction begins.

“This new portal means that our plans-review office is essentially open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for document submission and fee payment,” says Commerce and Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Leslie A. Newman, “including payment by e-check. Building plans involve very large files, and having them in our office as electronic documents will make it much easier to access, store and archive these plans. As documents are reviewed and any needed re-submittals are made, the time and money savings for construction projects will be significant. Upcoming phases of this project will provide additional automation and time accountability regarding a project’s status.”

The first plans came through Thursday afternoon (Dec 17th). Architect Peter Heimbach of the firm Beeson, Lusk and Street Inc. submitted the first set of plans using the new application for renovations to L. Clement Hall at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. Submitting the plans for the project electronically saved $200 in document production and transmittal costs for the project. Heimbach was one of a group of architects who also reviewed the project prototype.

Tennessee is among the first states to implement a process to allow electronic submission of plans and will soon be in the forefront in the nation by offering services allowing owners, architects and engineers access to project information and automated notices designed to streamline the plans approval process.

The SFMO will host a webinar at 1 p.m., January 11, 2010, to assist design professionals in the use of the application. The webinar will be free to design professionals, who will need only a telephone (and access code provided by the department) to attend.

Implementation of the project followed guidelines developed by a study of the department’s processes by the state Office of Information Resources. The SFMO partnered with NIC for the planning, design and development of the new online service. NIC develops and manages, the official website of the State of Tennessee.

To access the website, go to

About The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance works to protect consumers while ensuring fair competition for industries and professionals who do business in Tennessee.




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