Depending on the roles of these employees in your organization, having them perform fire watch duties can prove very costly in terms of lost productivity. NFPA 101-2012, section 3.3.104, states a fire watch should at least involve some special action beyond normal staffing, such as assigning an additional security guard (s) to walk the areas affected. Watchers are required to keep a log sheet of the rounds they make while on fire watch. Sandy Springs: Requirements for Temporary Fire Watch, National Fire Protection Association: About NFPA. Any person who meets these criteria may be a fire watcher. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has established a set of guidelines known as the Life Safety Codes. Fire Watch Requirements The NFPA requires a fire watch to be implemented if a system is down for more than four hours in a 24-hour timeframe. If it isn’t and a fire were to break out, the building owner may be held liable for any damages. Fire watchers should be familiar with the buildings and equipment they are watching. When it comes to compliance, fire watch policies can be complex because there are often multiple AHJs that must be notified of a system impairment and fire watch implementation, and they may have different interpretations regarding some aspects of the regulations. Companies that provide fire watch services provide their own insurance, eliminating any potential liability on the part of the building owner. The main point here is that it is important to evaluate all of your options when developing your fire watch policy so that it can be implemented quickly in the event of an impairment to your fire sprinkler or alarm systems. Local authorities are to be notified of the equipment failure and subsequent fire watch. Basic Requirements for Fire Watches According to the NFPA, for fire alarm systems, a fire watch is required if the system is impaired for more than four hours in a 24-hour period. This includes attics, crawl spaces, storage rooms, resident rooms, employee break rooms and concealed areas. A common misconception with fire watch requirements is that systems must be out of service for more than four consecutive hours before the requirement to implement a fire watch is invoked. But, when they do quick decisions are needed. Some buildings are required by law to have fire alarm and automatic sprinkler systems. In Chapter 3 of the LSC, a fire watch is defined as the assignment of one or more people with the following tasks: Emergency impairments can include an interruption in the water supply to the system, frozen or ruptured pipes, equipment failure, and any impairments that are identified during inspections of the system. The user of this article or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information's accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. In either … Ideally, your fire watch policy will provide a plan for acting quickly to ensure your compliance with the regulation. These guidelines are designed to protect lives and property from the hazards presented by fire. She holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting, having graduated summa cum laude. Training and equipment costs — When using employees, there are costs associated with training them on the requirements of a fire watch and providing them with all the required fire safety equipment, communication devices, and PPE to perform them properly. The NFPA 101 code is written to provide guidelines and recommendations. A given jurisdiction may have requirements that are less strict, more strict, or which include additional requirements based on other Codes. Potential legal liability — Fire watches may or may not be included in a building’s insurance policy. When hiring a security company, you can expect that your fire watchers will arrive with all the necessary training and equipment. In both cases, the fire department must be notified. The requirement applies when the sum of all outages in a 24-hour period exceeds more than four hours. Members of a fire watch must regularly and thoroughly check all parts of a building that are affected by the fire alarm and sprinkler failures. Fire Safety, The Code also covers preplanned impairments that occur when the system must be shut down for a period of time to allow for open flame operations such as welding in an area with automatic fire detection systems or disconnecting the system for the purposes of testing and maintenance. The log is usually kept in a central location to make it easily accessible and to verify that it is not being tampered with. This post will help you learn more about fire watches — what they are, what they entail, and the circumstances in which they must be implemented — as well as a discussion of the options available to building owners in conducting them. Hiring an outside company to perform a fire watch would eliminate this problem, but there is still a cost involved. In addition to the facility's established fire emergency plan, watchers should know where manual fire alarm stations and fire protection equipment are located and be able to use them if necessary. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations. If your building has a fire alarm system and/or a water-based fire protection system such as a sprinkler system, you may be required by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety Code (LSC) to implement a fire watch should that system become impaired. For water-based fire protection systems, fire watches are required for impairments lasting 10 hours or more in a 24-hour period. It is important to note however, that requirements can vary by jurisdiction and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs). During a fire watch, however, a watchers only job should be maintaining the fire watch. Given this, it is important that those conducting a fire watch be very familiar with the building and the equipment they are watching. We can help you evaluate whether the policy and your fire protection plan as a whole will meet all applicable regulations. Local authorities are to be notified of the equipment failure and subsequent fire watch. Fire watches require the continuous patrol of all areas of the building affected by the impairment to look for evidence of smoke, fire, or any abnormal conditions. In addition to requiring detailed training in how to conduct a fire watch, Section 1915.504 requires employers to develop and maintain a current written fire watch policy that specifies the following: Before making a decision regarding the use of employees to serve as fire watchers, it may be useful to consider some of the pros and cons of using employees to perform fire watches or outsourcing to a security company.