• What is Emergency Preparedness?

    Emergency preparedness means taking action to be ready for emergencies before they happen. The objective of emergency preparedness is to simplify decision making during emergencies. Over the years, the combined efforts of the FEMA, State and local officials, as well as thousands of volunteers and first responders (such as police, firefighters, and medical response personnel), have produced emergency preparedness programs that assure the protection of the public in the event of an emergency. The emergency preparedness process incorporates the means to rapidly identify, evaluate and react to a wide spectrum of emergency conditions. Emergency plans are dynamic and are routinely reviewed and updated to reflect an ever-changing environment. Planning for these emergencies at home is the most effective and efficient way to make sure you and your family stay safe. Explore the link below to find ways you can better prepare yourself and your family in the event of an emergency.


    How to prepare

  • How do I begin creating a fire escape plan for my home?

    Your ability to get out of your home during a fire depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning. Fire can spread rapidly through your home, leaving you as little as one or two minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. A closed door will slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.You can find more information with the National Fire Protection Association on how to prepare your home in the event of a fire.

  • How do I sign up for emergency alerts in my area?

    Hyper-Reach is the software that allows Emergency Services to quickly send a recorded message to telephones in specific areas and alert residents to any emergency situations that may require immediate action. The system is designed to deliver more than 5,000 calls per hour and has been successfully used on a number of occasions for incidents such as hazardous chemical releases, missing persons, and barricaded persons. The “Hyper-Reach” message delivers critical information to residents and provides guidance on what precautions need to be taken by residents during and after the incident.

  • Where can I see weather information for our local area?

    There are several reasons why weather forecasts are important. They would certainly be missed if they were not there. It is a product of science that impacts the lives of many people. Watauga County Emergency Services does our best to keep track of upcoming severe weather, but a large part of being self-sufficient and preparing your home is knowing where to look for yourself. Our department relies on the official forecast from the  National Weather Service  for our weather related information, you may see this information relayed by many private sources. For quick visual updates you may also reference our communities resort cams or Appalachian States local weather station. 

  • How do I apply for a burning permit?

    A burn permit is required by the North Carolina Forest Service for outdoor burning in certain situations. The permit is free, easy to get, and the right thing to do. A burn permit is issued when conditions are OK to stage an outdoor fire. Burn permits are important to fire personnel in order to keep tabs on existing and potential fires in the area. You may apply for a burn permit here.  Burning permits are good only for the time period in which they were issued. Watching an out-of-control fire rushing toward your things is a very helpless feeling, and a permit won’t stop it, but it will remind us to take precautions and be careful with our fires.

  • What is the real importance behind fire prevention and safety?

    More than one-quarter of the reported fires in 2015–2019 (26 percent) occurred in homes. In addition, three-quarters of the civilian fire deaths (75 percent) and almost three-quarters of the reported civilian fire injuries (72 percent) during that time period were caused by home structure fires. Most home fires and fire casualties resulted from one of five causes: cooking, heating equipment, electrical distribution and lighting equipment, intentional fire setting, and smoking materials. Over the five-year period of 2015–2019, cooking was the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Smoking materials caused the most home fire deaths. The Watauga County Fire Marshal’s office is an active voice  in our community and communicates fire prevention safety and outreach programs. However fire safety starts at home and the NC Office of the State Fire Marshal has provided great resources to know how to do your part to keep your home safe.


  • How do I get a smoke detector if I cannot afford one or am physically unable to install one?

    About three out of five fire deaths happen in homes without working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan providing early warning to reduce your risk of dying in a fire. The National Fire Protection Association recommends you:

    • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas on the ceiling or high on the wall
    • Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen, at least 10 feet from the stove, to reduce false alarms
    • Use special alarms with strobe lights and bed shakers for people who are hard of hearing or deaf
    • Test smoke alarms monthly
    • Replace batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector annually
    • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 or more years old

    In partnership with the American Red Cross, the Watauga County Emergency Services Department is able to provide free installation and inspection of smoke detectors to those in need. In order to be a recipient of this program please contact our office at 828-264-4235.


  • Why are fire inspections required in North Carolina?

    Periodic Fire Code Inspections are required by the NC State Fire Code section 106.

    “In order to preserve and to protect public health and safety, and to satisfy the requirements of General Statute General Statute 160A-424, political subdivisions assuming inspection duties, as set out in General Statute 160A-411, shall have a periodic inspection schedule for the purpose of identifying activities and conditions in buildings, structures, and premises that pose dangers of fire, explosion, or related hazards.”

    These fire inspections are required for all premises, except one and two family dwellings, and are scheduled based on your type of occupancy as defined by the State Fire Code. Listed below is the frequency rate of inspections.

    1 Year Inspections

    Assembly – Restaurants, clubs, gyms, and places of entertainment, etc.

    Hazardous – Hazardous materials, flammable liquids and explosives facilities, etc.

    Institutional – Hospital, nursing homes, licensed care facilities, jails, etc.

    Residential – Apartments, hotels, motels, dormitories, etc.

    High-Rise Buildings – all use types.

    Foster Home Inspections call 828-264-4235

    2 Year Inspections 

    Factory-Industrial Facilities – manufacturing and assembly plants, etc.

    Educational Facilities – Private schools, except public schools are inspected every six months.

    3 Year Inspections

    Assembly –with an occupant load less than 100

    Businesses – Banks, barber and beauty shops, gas stations and self-service, educational occupancies above the 12th grade, print shops, professional service offices (architects, attorneys, dentists, physicians, engineers), etc.

    Mercantile- Department stores, drug stores, markets, retail or wholesale stores, etc.

    Storage Facilities – Warehouses, garages, hangers

    Churches and Synagogues

    Miscellaneous – Tanks, silos, greenhouses, etc

    To request an inspection please fill out one of our forms that best fit your inspection request or contact our office at 828-264-4235. You may also email fireinspections@watgov.org to request an inspection or to send your annual inspection reports. ( Sprinkler Systems, Alarms, etc.)