Compliant with 2014 Edition IFC 675 IAC 22-2.5
PROCEDURE: IFC 901.7 Systems out of service. Where a required fire protection system is out of service, the fire department and the fire code official shall be notified immediately and, the building shall either be evacuated or an approved fire watch shall be provided for all occupants left unprotected by the shutdown until the fire protection system has been returned to service. Where utilized, fire watches shall be provided with at least one approved means for notification of the fire department and their only duty shall be to perform constant patrols of the protected premises and keep watch for fires.
Fire Watch and Out-of-Service Fire Protection Systems
A “fire watch” is a temporary measure intended to ensure continuous and systematic surveillance of a building or part of a building by one or more qualified individuals. The purpose of a fire watch is to control fire hazards, detect early signs of unwanted fire, raise an alarm in case of fire, and notify the fire department. When is a Fire Watch Required? A fire watch is required whenever a fire protection system is out of service. Fire protection systems include fire alarms and fire sprinklers. The impairment can be a planned impairment (for example, a planned decision to take a fire alarm system offline for several hours to perform scheduled maintenance), or the system may experience an emergency impairment (for example, when a fire pump fails).
In addition, if a fire alarm system experiences an excessive number of accidental activations or nuisance alarms, a building owner (or their representative) may be required by the Seattle Fire Department to provide a fire watch until the system is repaired. For exceptions to the fire watch requirement, please see “Fire Watch Exceptions” on the last page.
- Notify the building manager, if applicable.
- Notify the alarm monitoring company.
- Notify tenants in the areas of the building that are affected by the impairment, and provide an estimate of how long the systems are likely to be out of service.
- Contact the repair company to fix the fire protection system(s).
- Notify the insurance carrier.
- Implement a fire watch
In addition, if a fire protection system is anticipated to be out of service for eight or more hours, building owners or impairment coordinators must also: Notify the Mishawaka Fire Department. See Report of Impaired System for information on the notification process and required timelines.
Fire Watch Protocols and orders for personnel on duty.
403.1 Fire watch personnel. Whenever, it is essential for public safety in any Class 1 structure or any other place where people congregate, due to the number of persons or the nature of the activity being conducted, the fire chief may require the owner, agent or lessee to employ one (1) or more qualified persons, to be approved by the fire chief, to be on duty in such Class 1 structure to serve as a fire watch. Such persons shall:
(1) Be subject to the fire chief’s orders at all times;
(2) Be in uniform; and
(3) Remain on duty at all times that such Class 1 structure is open to the public.
Such persons shall not be required or permitted, while on duty, to perform any duties other than the fire watch.
403.1.1 Duties. Fire watch personnel shall keep diligent watch for fires, obstructions to means of egress and other hazards during the time such place is open to the public or such activity is being conducted and take prompt measures for remediation of hazards, extinguishment of fires that occur and assist in the evacuation of the public from the structures.
403.1.2 Qualified Person. For the purposes of Section 403, qualified person means a person who has been trained to meet, and is capable of carrying out the duties and requirements listed in Section 403.1.1 and is acceptable to the fire chief over the jurisdiction wherein the fire watch is taking place.
Fire watch personnel shall perform the following duties:
- Continuously patrol all areas of the building where the fire protection system is impaired, or the entire building if the fire alarm system is impaired. All applicable areas of the building shall be visited at least once every 30 minutes. NOTE: Fire watch patrols are limited to the building common areas and building facilities such as laundry, maintenance, and storage areas in residential (R) occupancies. Fire watch patrol is not expected to enter private apartments or hotel units.
- Identify any fire, life, or property hazards.
- Notify the Mishawaka Fire Department if a fire is discovered by calling 911 with the exact address and type of emergency.
- Notify occupants of the facility of the need to evacuate. If the sirens or public address function of the alarm system is still functional, use them to assist with the evacuation of the building.
- Determine at least one means of direct communication with the Fire Department. A telephone is acceptable.
- Maintain a log of fire watch activities. See “Record Keeping” below for more information.
- Have knowledge of the location and use of fire protection equipment, such as fire extinguishers.
- Fire watch personnel cannot have other duties besides their assigned fire watch. In other words, building occupants performing their regular duties cannot serve as fire watch.
The fire watch will not perform fire-fighting duties beyond the scope of the ordinary citizen.
Fire Watch Personnel Requirements
The building owner determines the personnel who will conduct the fire watch and then has to be approved by the Fire Marshal or AHJ.
Dedicated Fire Watch
A dedicated fire watch is the most common type of fire watch required. This is a dedicated position serving as fire watch and not performing other duties. The dedicated fire watch must remain on duty and continuously patrol the areas of the building where the system is impaired, or the whole building if the fire alarm is impaired.
A dedicated fire watch is required at all times day and night when a fire protection system is impaired in the building and may require the exterior of the building.
Building occupants must be notified of the impairment and of their responsibility to call 911 in case of fire. These conditions are required during the times affected buildings are open for general occupancy, open to the public, or as otherwise required by the fire code official.
A fire watch log should be maintained at the facility. The log must be available to the Mishawaka Fire Department at all times during the fire watch. The log should show the following:
- Address of the facility.
- Description of fire watch duties (e.g. patrol route, systems to check, hazards to check).
- Running list of persons conducting patrol, including name, starting and ending time of patrol shift, and signature.
- Record of communication(s) to the Fire Department and monitoring company.
- Record of other information as directed by Fire Department personnel.
Cancellation of Fire Watch
The fire watch can be canceled once the fire protection system has been restored to service. A fire protection system is considered restored to service when a test conducted by a certified technician confirms that the system functions as designed. At this point, the technician should remove the red tag and place a new tag on the system. The Return to Service form shall be completed and emailed to Firemarshals@mishawaka.in.gov the day the system is back in service. The technician is also required to formally submit the report to the Mishawaka Fire Department within seven days using the standard reporting process (www.thecomplianceengine.com)
Exceptions to Fire Watch
A dedicated fire watch, or other approved mitigation, is required for impairments to fire protection systems of any length, or as determined by the fire code official.
For buildings that have been completely evacuated and secured, fire watch is not required.
Appliances that are protected by range hoods, commercial cooking systems, or fire-extinguishing systems including kitchen appliances and spray booths shall not be used while the range hood, commercial cooking system, or fire-extinguishing system is impaired except with approval from the Fire Marshal’s Office. When appliances are not being used, and with proper lock-out tag-out, fire watch is not required.