Phoenix Pacific

Fire Watch Procedures: What Is It and How Do We Conduct Them?

A red fire extinguisher below the hose reel.

Learn how this safety protocol can ensure your space is ready to survive a fire hazard. 

Ensuring fire safety is paramount in any environment, whether it’s a commercial building, industrial facility, or residential complex. Fire hazards can arise unexpectedly and pose significant risks to both property and lives. Therefore, implementing comprehensive fire safety measures is a vitally important part of building maintenance and operations. One such critical aspect of fire safety is the implementation of fire watch procedures. These procedures are designed and intended to be a temporary substitute for standard fire prevention systems when they are compromised or during activities that increase the likelihood of a fire. In this blog, we’ll explain a fire watch, when it’s necessary, and what it involves. Let’s get started!

SEE ALSO: Fire Alarm Monitoring: When Is It Required in a Building?

What Is a Fire Watch?

A fire watch is a safety measure taken to prevent fires when fire protection systems are not operational or during activities that pose a higher risk of fire. The primary purpose of a fire watch is to maintain a heightened level of vigilance and ensure quick response to any signs of fire or fire hazards.

A fire watch requires personnel to continuously monitor specific areas to detect and mitigate potential fire risks. It involves notifying the fire department and building occupants, preventing fires, protecting people from fire safety dangers, and much more. This proactive approach helps protect property and, most importantly, save lives.

When Is a Fire Watch Necessary?

Several scenarios require the implementation of a fire watch:

  1. Fire Protection Systems Out of Service: When fire alarms, sprinklers, or other fire suppression systems are undergoing maintenance, repairs, or are otherwise inoperative, a fire watch must be established to compensate for the lack of automatic fire detection and suppression.
  2. High-Risk Activities: Certain activities, such as welding, cutting, or any form of “hot work” that involves flames, sparks, or heat, generate a higher risk of fire. During these activities, fire watch personnel are required to monitor the area to prevent accidental fires.
  3. Building Evacuations: During and after evacuations, especially in high-rise buildings or large complexes, fire watch personnel must ensure that no fire hazards are overlooked and that all safety protocols are followed.
  4. Special Events: Events that draw large crowds or involve flammable materials may require a fire watch to manage the increased fire risk. This is particularly common in places like exhibition halls, concert venues, or public gatherings.

How Is a Fire Watch Conducted?

As we mentioned earlier, a fire watch involves expert personnel monitoring every area of a property where fire risks might be significantly higher. Their responsibilities include continuously patrolling the designated area to identify any signs of fire or fire hazards and quickly addressing any potential threats. This person or group of people must be trained to recognize fire hazards, such as blocked exits, accumulation of flammable materials, or malfunctioning equipment. Additionally, maintaining clear communication with fire safety teams and local fire authorities is essential. Fire watch personnel should have direct lines of communication to report any incidents immediately.

To aid in their activities, personnel responsible for a fire watch should have easily accessible and properly maintained fire extinguishers to handle small fires before they escalate. Plus, radios, mobile phones, or other reliable communication devices are a must to ensure that fire watch personnel can alert others promptly. Lastly, appropriate protective equipment, such as fire-resistant clothing and helmets, is vital to protect fire watch personnel while they perform their duties.

Is a Fire Watch My Responsibility as a Building Manager?

The effectiveness of a fire watch depends significantly on the competence and vigilance of the personnel assigned to this task. For this reason, fire watch personnel can be employees who have received specific training in fire watch procedures, security personnel who are already familiar with a facility’s layout and operations, or professional fire watch services hired to perform fire watch duties. These services provide trained and certified personnel who specialize in fire prevention and are equipped to handle a wide range of fire safety scenarios.

Regardless of who conducts the fire watch, it is essential that they are well-trained, vigilant, and equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to respond effectively to any fire-related incidents.Implementing proper fire watch protocols not only adheres to safety regulations but also plays a crucial role in mitigating fire risks and safeguarding lives. For more information about fire safety solutions and procedures, contact Phoenix Pacific today.