By: Paul Richard

There are two situations where a building may need a Fire Watch, these are hot work and system impairment. Let’s take a look at each of these situations.

HOT WORK: A Fire Watch is needed during and after hot work such as welding, cutting, grinding, soldering or the use of open flame. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publication “Structure Fires Caused by Hot Work,” there is an average of 4,400 structure fires a year involving hot work, causing $287 million in property damage a year. What’s more concerning is that 78% of the fires involving hot work occurred in occupied buildings where there are people living, working, and conducting business.  

SYSTEM IMPAIRMENT: A Fire Watch is needed when there is a loss or impairment of all or part of a fire alarm, detection, suppression or fire sprinkler system. Buildings with fire protection systems are required by law to maintain these systems at all times in order for the owner to have occupancy. If the system is not working properly, it must be repaired and a Fire Watch maintained until the repair is completed. Fire marshals have been known to order the evacuation of buildings that have lost their required fire protection systems.

Your insurance company or local fire marshal may require a Fire Watch in other situations as well, such as during other types of hazardous operations or during fireworks displays.

A Fire Watch must be a competent person, trained in the aspects of fire protection and life safety. Those chosen for such duty may be security officers, maintenance staff or other employees from within the business, but they are not permitted to perform these other duties during their tour as Fire Watch. Their assignment is to keep a diligent watch for smoke or fire and once detected, take the necessary steps to resolve the situation. To resolve the situation, they must have a working knowledge of alarm and fire protection systems, fire extinguishers and the notification of emergency services. The equipment necessary must be readily available to them, which may include various types of extinguishers, PPE, two-way radio, cell phone, flashlight and keys to access critical areas.

In large buildings and industrial facilities, if the entire fire protection system has been compromised, the Fire Watch must walk every part of the building every hour. It goes without saying therefore, that if one person cannot accomplish this task, additional personnel may be required.

CCS can provide Fire Watch services and training. Contact us for more information.