I notice that a lot of towns have "right of entry" rules which ostensibly permit firefighters to trespass onto private property essentially whenever they want to "inspect" things to "prevent fire". Basically, it's carte blanche to trespass on people's property to snoop on them. For example, linked is a typical town "code" to this effect.

Does "code" like this overrule somehow laws against trespassing?

This is relevant to me because I have a property with private road and the firefighters in town feel free to drive onto my property and snoop around.

  • It may depend on your state constitution and how the laws are written.
    – D M
    Apr 7, 2019 at 23:51
  • The way 166-10 B in the link is written seems contradictory - I'm not sure whether it's saying that refusing the Fire Marshal is a legal violation of some kind or if it's something the writers just really don't want you to do. Apr 8, 2019 at 0:16
  • 1
    Please indicate your country. Or may I assume Italy, from your user name?
    – vsz
    Apr 8, 2019 at 5:03
  • @vsz the linked code is for Franklin, New Hampshire, USA.
    – jcaron
    Apr 8, 2019 at 10:04
  • Do you have signage at the property line indicating it is such (I.E. Private Property, No Trespassing) or a barrier such as a gate or fence to prevent entry? Not saying that they are allowed to drive onto the property, but they might not be doing so with malicious intent. Also please define what they are doing that constitutes "Snooping".
    – hszmv
    Apr 8, 2019 at 17:09

1 Answer 1


The New Hampshire law against trespassing says

I. A person is guilty of criminal trespass if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place.

State law does not specify what conditions constitute having license or privilege. The Franklin city code specifies one form of privilege.

A:The Fire Chief or his or her authorized representative shall have the right to inspect all premises, except owner-occupied detached single- or two-family structures used exclusively for dwelling purposes. These inspections shall be made in accordance with the systematic inspection program and as often as may be necessary for the purpose of ascertaining and causing to be corrected any conditions liable to cause fire, contribute to the spread of fire, interfere with fire operations or endanger life or any conditions constituting violations of the provisions or intent of this article. Except in the case of systematic inspection programs or other good cause, inspections shall not include occupied dwelling units.

B: Whenever necessary to make an inspection to enforce any of the provisions of this code, or whenever the Fire Chief or his or her authorized representative has reasonable cause to believe that there exists in any or upon any premises any condition which makes such building or premises unsafe, the Fire Chief or his or her representative may enter such premises at all reasonable times to inspect the same, provided that if such premises shall be occupied, he or she shall first present proper credentials and demand entry, and if such premises shall be unoccupied, he or she shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other persons having charge or control of the premises and demand entry. No owner or occupant or any other persons having charge, care or control of any premises shall fail or neglect, after proper request is made as herein provided, to promptly permit entry therein by the Fire Chief or his or her authorized representative for the purpose of inspection and examination pursuant to this article. If the owner or occupant denies entry, the Fire Chief or his or her authorized representative shall obtain a proper warrant or other remedy provided by law to secure entry.

This ordinance does not grant firefighters the right to snoop on people's property whenever they want. So this does not "override" state law. If you refuse admission, they must obtain a warrant (constitutional requirement), making the justification subject to judicial review, i.e. conformity with the states grounds for such entry. The clause "No owner shall fail to promptly permit entry" is a rhetorical admonition, not an enforceable clause, and an ordinance cannot suspend the 4th Amendment.

  • Yeah, well what I know is that they are driving onto my property like they own it. You are basically repeating stuff I already know. I mean you just pasted what I linked! This does not offer any new information.
    – Cicero
    Apr 8, 2019 at 0:54
  • 2
    @Cicero You have the right to refuse them, as the answer explains. You could serve them with a notarized letter explicitly denying them entry and ordering them to C&D. If they continue after that I can think of more options but it would probably make sense to consult with a local lawyer to figure out what the best next step is. If they are currently on your property and you have unambiguously asked them to leave, you could call your local police as well to ask them to remove them, since they are trespassing unless they already have a warrant or "other legal remedy." Apr 8, 2019 at 1:10
  • I'm assuming you've already called or written politely asking them to work out an inspection schedule that is reasonable to you, of course. Apr 8, 2019 at 1:23
  • Additionally, first responders (Such as Fire Fighters) are normally permitted to enter property without a warrant if there is extravagant circumstance or evidence is in plain view. In the later case, if you're flamable death trap of a building is visible from public land, they can enter. In the form case, they can enter if they have reason to believe that there is an emergency or imminent danger (i.e., They see smoke from the private road that could indicate fire) OR were called to a probable fire by someone who saw smoke.
    – hszmv
    Apr 8, 2019 at 17:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.