Fire Watch Policy and Procedure

September 2, 2022
Community Action Security

Community Action Security

Fire Watch: Requirements and Best Practices

Many building owners find fire watches intimidating, and they may be costly because they require the diversion of personnel or the hiring of outside specialists to keep a check on the building. Executing one when a fire protection system is undergoing quick repairs or upgrades, on the other hand, should be straightforward if well designed.

This article will teach you more about fire watch requirements, the fire watch definition, and when is a fire watch required, as well as the alternatives accessible to building owners for conducting them.

What is a Fire Watch?

According to NFPA 101-3.3.108., the goal of a fire watch is to identify and control fire threats, detect fires, raise/activate an alarm, alert the fire service, and aid inhabitants in evacuating in the case of a fire within an unprotected structure. This individual entrusted with this duty may also be referred to as a fire watch.

It’s worth noting that a fire watch is not only mandated by the NFPA 101-Life Safety Code, but also by specific towns. Regardless of whether the fire watch requirements are mandated or not, it is a vital aspect of your building’s fire protection plan.

When is a Fire Watch Needed?

One of four causes may need a company to fulfill the fire watch requirements:

A building’s fire suppression system is out of commission for an extended period.

The fire alarm, fire sprinkler, or fire suppression system in the building is not working, or an outage has been scheduled for more than four hours. Conditions like this frequently need notice from the fire marshal. For local requirements, contact your local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). A significant condition that affects life safety by leaving all or part of a fire protection system unusable until it is rectified, according to NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems (3.3.21). Property is rarely more exposed to catastrophic fire loss when a fire prevention system or a section of one is out of commission. It makes no difference whether the impairment results from an unexpected event, such as a burst pipe, or is the result of scheduled repairs, testing, or maintenance.

Buildings containing “Hot Work.”

In the building, there is a lot of activity. Welding, torching, and other spark or flame-producing operations are examples of hot work. Hot work is a primary cause of industrial fires and many other types of building fires.

When a structure is being built or demolished.

When a building is being demolished, some hazardous operations, comparable to hot work, are carried out.

Because fire alarms and fire sprinklers aren’t linked, water supplies may be switched off, and sparks from power equipment can ignite surrounding flammable items, fires on construction, or demolition sites can swiftly spiral out of control.

Large gatherings.

The presence of many people in a building necessitates special safeguards. For added crowd safety, certain public assembly buildings are mandated to maintain fire watches during events.

What are NFPA Fire Watch Requirements?

The fire watch requirements NFPA create a need for a fire watch if the system is out of commission for more than four hours in a 24-hour period. According to fire watch policy, one is necessary for water-based fire prevention systems if the impairment lasts longer than 10 hours in a 24-hour period. You must contact the fire department in both circumstances. It’s vital to keep in mind, though, that standards differ depending on the jurisdiction and the authorities in charge. A jurisdiction’s rules may be greater or less stringent, or they may incorporate additional criteria based on other codes. The strictest rules would apply in these situations.

How to Implement Fire Watch Procedures

Taking the time to arrange a fire watch thoroughly is critical. The fire watch should cover the building methodically and consistently, generally once every hour. The only exception is when hot work is being done, in which case, just the area of the building that is exposed to the hazard has to be monitored. Keeping track of the fire watch is an important part of being organized. Fire watch laws and enforcement differ by city and enforcing officials, but something will be required in the event of a system breakdown. The alternative option is to leave the building during a power outage. However, this is rarely chosen. But, if the fire marshal insists on a fire watch, you’ll have to comply.

Fire watch requirements and best practices:

  • Have a method of communication to contact emergency services or the fire department in the event of a fire.
  • Conduct regular patrols of the whole facility’s interior and outdoors.
  • Keep track of the structure’s current occupancy levels.
  • In the event of an emergency, designate an evacuation location for the building’s residents.
  • Keep a fire watch log.
  • Know where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them properly (Pull – Aim – Squeeze – Sweep).
  • Call 9-1-1 as soon as possible if there is a fire or a strong odor of smoke.
  • Notify all residents of the building and initiate evacuation (usage of the fire alarm system is allowed provided certain components are operational).
  • Use a fire extinguisher if possible. Never turn your back on the fire or put yourself in danger by putting the fire between you and the exit.
  • Identify yourself and convey information essential to the fire and any prospective inhabitants when you arrive and set up Incident Command.
  • Conduct an occupancy count of all evacuated residents; if any persons who have not evacuated are discovered, immediately notify the on-scene Incident Commander.

Note that any person assigned to fire watch duties will not have any additional responsibilities and will not engage in any firefighting beyond a regular citizen.

Regular inspections during the fire watch:

Inspections are performed regularly. In the following scenarios, fire watch personnel must patrol the whole site every (15) minutes:

  1. If people are sleeping in the facilities.
  2. The establishment is a school or a center of worship.
  3. The facility is currently in use as an assembly location.

Every 30 minutes, any additional structures that do not satisfy the criteria for 15-minute patrol intervals will be patrolled.

Fire Watch Log: For the length of the fire watch, you must keep a fire watch Log at the institution. The log will be maintained up to date and updated.

  • Current occupancy counts of the structure, facility address, patrol times, name of person(s) in charge of fire watch, and records of any communications with the Fire Department or Fire Alarm System Monitoring Company.
  • By 0900, the fire watch log must be faxed or sent to the Life Safety Division at 239-432-1554 or prevention@fmbfire.org.

Addressing Fire Watch Requirements at Your Workplace

Implementing fire watch policy and procedure can be more than a good idea; it’s a requirement for many businesses. Let Community Actions Security help you through the process of securing your workplace for your employees. We’re happy to evaluate your business to see if it requires fire watch protocols and provide a free consultation and quote so you can decide which course is best for protecting your workers.

See for yourself why we’re Arizona’s number one security services provider. For additional information about our security guard services, contact us today.

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