A fire watch is a short-term, emergency measure to provide an acceptable level of life safety in an unsafe or hazardous conditions existing in a building or structures. A fire watch is a compensatory measure only. It is intended to allow continued occupancy of a building or facility that may not be safe to be occupied during the time period required for implementing appropriate changes or repairs. The purpose of the fire watch is to check all areas of the building on a regular basis to detect fire/life safety emergencies and provide prompt notification to 911 along with the building occupants of the appropriate actions to be taken.
A fire watch is required to be implemented immediately when certain conditions are discovered either by the facility manager or by the Fire Marshal. Examples of when a fire watch will be required by the DC Fire and EMS Department, Office of the Fire Marshal include, but are not limited to:
- Outages for maintenance (four hours or longer), significant impairment of or out-of-service fire alarm system.
- Outages for maintenance (four hours or longer), significant impairment of or out-of-service fire suppression system.
- Blocked or locked means of egress and/or exit.
- Hazardous or dangerous conditions that create an immediate life hazard (this condition shall require notification to 911).
Each situation will be evaluated individually and outages for maintenance will be reviewed for the length of time involved to perform the work. Procedures: In the event that the building fire alarm system is inoperable or any other of the above situations occur immediately notify OPEFM Safety, Regulatory and Environmental Compliance Section at (202) 576-8962.
If it is determined that a fire watch is needed the Safety, Regulatory and Environmental Compliance Section will conduct a building survey. Size and configuration of the building, hours of operation and any special hazards will determine the time and number of persons required for the fire watch.
The Safety, Regulatory and Environmental compliance Section will inform the DC Fire and EMS Department, Office of the Fire Marshal that a fire watch has been established.
The Principal or Building Manager will notify building staff of system status using the Fire Alarm System Failure- Fire Watch memo. A copy of the memo will be forwarded to OPEFM Safety, Regulatory and Environmental Compliance Section at (202) 576-8962 which may be forwarded to DC Fire Marshal, if requested.
The Principal or Building Manager will issue Fire Watch – Duty Statement memo to person selected to participate in the fire watch and inform them of their selection to participate, their hours of service and duties involved. Duties are:
Identify at least one means of direct communication with the Fire Department (A telephone is acceptable).
- Conduct periodic patrols of the entire facility checking for the occurrence of fire.
- Identify any fire, life or property hazards.
- Notify occupants of the facility of the need to evacuate.
- Notify the DC Fire Department if a fire is discovered, by calling 9-1-1 with the exact address and type of emergency.
- Maintain a log of activities during the fire watch.
Principal or Building Manager will establish a Fire Watch Log Sheet and maintain the log until fire alarm system is placed back in service or any other emergency is corrected. Completed log sheet will be forwarded to OPEFM Safety, Regulatory and Environmental Compliance Section at (202) 576-8962 for review and will be forwarded to DC Fire Marshal if requested. OPEFM Safety, Regulatory and Environmental Compliance Section will notify DC Fire and EMS Department, Office of the Fire Marshal when the situation returns to normal operations and the fire watch is no longer needed.
FIRE WATCH LOG SHEET
This Fire Watch Log Sheet(s) is to be maintained at the facility until the re-establishment of fire alarm service; at which time this sheet is to be submitted to the OPEFM Safety Office at the Penn Center, 1709 3rd St. NE, Lower Level, Washington, DC 20002 or through fax at (202) 576-8962. The log must be available to the DC Fire Department at all times during the fire watch and include the following information:
- Times that the periodic patrol was completed (include your start and end of shift).
- Name of the person conducting the fire watch.
- Record of any communication(s) to the Fire Department.
- Note any alarm system work or any hazardous conditions found.
Facility Name: [Building Name]
Facility Address: [Building Address]
|Date and Time||Watch Person||Comments|
(Insert School Letterhead Here)
Date: (Current Date)
To: (School Staff)
From: (Insert Principal or Building Manager Name)
Re: Fire Alarm System Failure – Fire Watch
Be advised that this building is equipped with a local fire alarm system that is currently inoperable, and has been cited by the District of Columbia Fire Marshals Office. Repair efforts are underway and a contractor has been secured to complete the system programming and testing, beginning on (current date).
Under the direction of the Authority Having Jurisdiction a Fire Watch has been established for your facility. The two individuals identified with the responsibility to watch for the occurrence of fire are (insert persons name and time on duty). The Fire Watch will remain in affect until the reinstatement of the fire alarm system, and approval from the District of Columbia Fire Marshals Office.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me at (insert phone number).