Over the last few months, many readers have asked if we could provide more details regarding fire watch procedures. In the event critical fire and life safety is temporarily out of service, the fire department requires building operators to implement fire watch procedures. The term “fire watch” describes the situation whereby a pre-designated person or persons have the sole responsibility to be on the lookout for fires in a specific area. A fire watch must be established when any portion of a fire protection system in a building is temporarily shut down for any reason. This includes planned maintenance or periodic inspections when it is anticipated that the system will be shut down for more than four hours. In occupied buildings under renovation and where a fire protection system is not operational, a fire watch must be established. The Fire Code requires that buildings equipped with fire alarm systems and sprinkler systems be fully operational at all times. Therefore, in the event any of these systems are off-line for any reason whatsoever, a fire watch through the use of fire watch personnel is to be implemented immediately.
During a fire watch, a responsible occupant, employee or contracted security guard actively looks for evidence of smoke and fire, and listens for in-room smoke detector alarms. If smoke or fire is seen, they must declare a building emergency and contact the Fire Department. The fire watch is only intended as a short-term alternative to permit continued occupancy of the building. The Fire Department does require the immediate action of the building owner, business operator or management firm in arranging for corrective measures to be taken on any system which is temporarily out of service. The building owner, business operator or management firm is fully responsible to assign and instruct personnel, maintain the fire watch, and to contact a repair company to fix the fire protection system(s). All building occupants are to be notified in writing that the fire protection systems in the building are not functional and that a fire watch has been instituted until repairs have been made. The alternate measures required during a temporary shutdown of the building’s fire protection and life safety equipment are to be listed within the Fire Department approved fire safety plan, including the following:
i) The elected Fire Watch Personnel are to contact the Fire Department at the start and end of the each fire watch interval, or shift change.
ii) Fire Watch Personnel performing the patrol shall be equipped with a working cellular telephone in case they need to call 911 for Emergency Services, a flashlight and list of special needs persons requiring assistance.
iii) Fire Watch Personnel are to post signage throughout the common areas of the building indicating that the fire protection system is temporarily out of order, and to display the emergency evacuation procedures as outlined within the approved fire safety plan.
iv) The fire watch must be continuous (24 hours/day, 7 days/week) until the fire protection system is repaired and online.
v) Fire Watch Personnel must tour the building premise each hour starting on the hour, and report that the building inspection was completed.
vi) Fire Watch Personnel must be alert at all times during their watch.
vii) The Fire Watch Personnel must maintain a written log of the fire watch, indicating the date, time and alarm status, and must undersign their daily log report.
viii) Fire Watch Personnel must immediately notify the Fire Department at the first sign of any fire or smoke within the building, and must meet the first responder at main entrance of the building.
ix) Towards the conclusion of the watch, Fire Watch personnel must call the monitoring station and advise them to put the fire protection systems back on line.
x) Cancelling the fire watch is based on an assessment that the fire protection system is fully operational, at which time the Fire Department must be notified to this effect.
This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.