Bulletin 190 December 2014 Implementing Building Fire Watch Procedures
- Posted at: September 25, 2021 03:50:49

Descriptions of a building’s fire alert detection systems and their periodic maintenance requirements are provided in the fire safety plan, along with procedures to follow in the event this equipment is out of service. The fire code does require that fire alarm and sprinkler systems, or procedural alternatives, are fully operational at all times. Therefore, in the event that the automatic fire systems are off-line for any reason whatsoever, a fire watch must be implemented immediately. In other words, whenever critical fire and life safety equipment in a building is temporarily out of service, building operators are to commence fire watch procedures. The term “fire watch” means that pre-designated person(s) have the sole responsibility to be on the lookout for fires in a specific area. 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. This applies when it is anticipated that the fire system will be shut down for more than four hours. As described in the approved fire safety plan, signage must be clearly posted throughout the common areas of the building indicating which equipment is offline and the procedures to be followed in the event that an emergency arises. The fire watch is only intended as a short-term alternative so as to permit continued occupancy of the building. In unoccupied buildings under renovation where a fire protection system is not operational, a fire watch must also be established. During a fire watch, an elected occupant, employee or contracted security guard actively looks for evidence of smoke or fire as they walk the entire building area. If smoke or fire is seen, they must declare a building emergency and contact the fire department immediately.

The alternate measures required during a temporary shutdown of the building’s fire protection and life safety equipment must be listed within the approved fire safety plan. The plan includes log sheets for documenting contact with the fire department at the start and end of the each fire watch interval or shift change. Until the particular fire protection system is back on line, it is critical that the fire watch personnel maintain a written log of the fire watch shift, indicating the date, time and alarm status. As with the fire watch guidelines, solid fire precautions and procedures for the evacuation of the occupants in the building are an integral part of every building’s fire safety plan. The plan provides instruction and training material for employees, visitors and anyone who may need assistance to escape in the event of a building emergency. Occupants with a wide range of physical and/or mental impairment can have difficulty getting out of a building, a fact that becomes all the more critical during an emergency. Special needs occupants must be able to leave the premises safely if there is a fire. They are to be identified as part of the specified fire safety arrangements and evacuation procedures in the fire safety plan. Legislation has been passed regarding the safety of occupants with special needs during an emergency, including the requirement for references to their means of escape in the fire safety plan.
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.

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