The threat of fire on building and construction sites presents a huge risk to people and property, including the surrounding community. To that end, the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections issued new code requirements in September of 2020 for fire watches regarding construction and demolition sites. The new code states that all active building and construction sites in the city of Philadelphia must comply with the outlined requirements by November 1, 2020. Below are the new policy requirements directly from the City’s website.
A Fire Watch shall be required under the following circumstances:
- A building’s fire alarm, fire sprinkler, or fire suppression system is impaired, including planned impairments as required by Code Bulletin F-1601;
- Hot work activity occurs within the building;
- Combustible, new construction exceeds 40’ in height or includes an aggregate area exceeding 50,000 square feet;
- Other hazardous activity occurs, as determined by the Site Safety Manager, Fire Code Official, or the courts.
At a minimum, a Fire Watch shall be maintained at the following times:
- During an emergency or planned impairment of a fire protection system;
- During and at least 30 minutes after the conclusion of hot work activity;
- During non-working hours from the time that combustible construction reaches a height above 40’ or an area of 50,000 square feet until the fire alarm or fire suppression system has been certified.
A Fire Watch shall meet the following criteria:
- The primary duty of fire watch personnel shall be to perform constant patrols and watch for the occurrence of fire. The combination of fire watch duties and security duties is acceptable.
- Fire watch personnel shall be trained in all duties and responsibilities outlined in the Site Safety Plan.
- Fire watch personnel shall be provided with at least one approved means for notification to the Fire Department, including but not limited to a cellular phone.
- An adequate number of fire watch personnel shall be on duty to ensure that all areas of a property are inspected every 30 minutes. In multi-story buildings there shall be at least one fire watch for every five floors.
- In the event that the fire watch observes smoke or fire, the Fire Department shall be notified immediately.
- Maintain a record of all time periods of duty, including the log entry each time the site was patrolled, and each time a structure was entered and inspected. Records shall be made available for review by the Fire Code Official upon request.
The Site Safety Plan shall be reviewed during the initial meeting with the building inspector. Any changes to the plan shall be documented and made available for review by the building inspector or fire code official upon request.
Add value to your fire watch by taking a more comprehensive approach to the overall site security and safety of your property and people. Security guards on patrol should have clear general protocols in addition to the specific and mandated fire watch directives. Your guards should act as a strong, highly visible deterrent against illegal or unwanted activity. This includes awareness of any unsafe or unusual activity at adjacent structures or lots that could affect your property.
With over 45 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter, I personally developed Echelon’s fire watch protocols and processes. Since 2001, we’ve kept fire watches of every size and duration – from 1-day special projects to years-long remediations. Our fire watch services are responsive, well organized, and carefully managed in tandem with the local Fire Marshal and authorities.
Echelon uses decades of high-level fire watch experience combined with the latest technology in order to guarantee a safe and effective fire watch. Contact Echelon Protection & Surveillance for your next fire watch. Call 610-831-0277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today to learn more.