If a fire breaks out in your commercial or residential property, the fire safety equipment and protocols can protect you. But what if a fire breaks out during an outage or maintenance? In that event, having trained per a fire system certification will come to your rescue.
If the fire safety system is temporarily down, there is a fire watch protocol to ensure the damage can be minimized.
A well-organized fire watch keeps an eye on buildings during risky activities or while providing fire protection.
It is common to perform a fire watch when a fire alarm, sprinkler or standpipe is out of service due to damage or scheduled maintenance.
Most property owners find that fire watches are overwhelming, and they can also be expensive, given the additional expense of hiring outside contractors. However, executing one while re-working or repairing a fire protection system can be straightforward when organized properly.
This blog aims to shed light on fire watches and how to conduct them. Let’s get to it.
What Is a Fire Watch?
A building is continuously monitored during a fire watch, both electronically and physically, for a specified period.
As part of a fire watch, a group of dedicated employees periodically swap turns monitoring the affected area of the building for fire signs. Fire watches should include alerting the fire department or other emergency responders. It is also crucial to maintain records of when the notification came and when the watch crew completed its duties.
You should put your building under a fire watch during normal business hours if your fire marshal deems it necessary.
What is the Procedure for Conducting a Fire Watch?
As part of a fire watch, one or more trained personnel holding a fire system certification are continuously patrolling each region of the premises. When they find smoke or fire in the building, fire watchers must alert the occupants first and contact emergency services without further delay, and assist in the evacuation.
As a fire watcher, you are responsible for:
- Vigilantly searching for any potential or present hazard
- Responding immediately to any discovered fire
- Controlling the ignition safely and promptly
- Ensuring there are adequate exits and eliminating any barriers on the way
- Double-checking whether or not other alarms work correctly
- Contacting the nearby fire station, if necessary
- Using portable fire extinguishers or hoses to extinguish fires when necessary
- Reminding occupants to evacuate in case of hazardous conditions
- Patrolling every hour for the period the fire protection equipment is down.
A fire watch patrol should document their findings every hour of coverage. The watcher is responsible for more than just inspecting the occupied areas of a building. They should also inspect unoccupied spaces, such as underground spaces, storage areas, and hidden areas, which too can be the birth ground of a fire disaster.
During fire watch training, fire watchers are trained to recognize the hazards that may be present on a fire site and the nature of the tasks being performed. Accordingly, they receive fire system certification. As part of their duties, they should also be able to prevent dangerous conditions from arising. Further, they should also be able to properly complete fire watch logs because fire codes generally need meticulous details of all fire watch activities.
A clear understanding of manually operated fire alarm stations is essential, along with the methods of responding to a fire and sounding an alarm. Training on the use of emergency safety equipment must be formalized, and the equipment must be easily accessible to them. A fire watcher must only put out a fire with the equipment available to them if possible.
If these guidelines are not followed, the local authority can inflict fines or order the building to be evacuated until the situation is resolved.
Generally, fire watches are required until the conditions that require it are resolved. A fire watch employee must remain on duty until all fire sprinkler inspections and tests are completed, and the fire sprinkler system has been restored to full working order.
Building owners may find it difficult to conduct a fire watch when ordered to do so. By preparing beforehand, conducting a fire watch can be made simple and painless, ensuring that life safety standards are consistently high throughout the property.