When should you get a fire watch service?
Many commercial real estate owners and property managers wonder how they know if they fire watch services. The simple answer is if you have to ask yourself if you need a fire watch, then you most likely need one. Fire watch services are typically needed when a building either has a fire alarm that is down, sprinkler system is malfunctioning, burglar alarm or access control system malfunctioning, or in response to power outages related to a natural disaster. Fire watch service in Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia are typically provided by security companies. If you are unsure you can ultimately contact the fire marshal, describe the situation and ask if you should schedule a fire watch. If you have any of the following situations then you most likely need a fire watch.
Fire alarm not working
Fire alarm problems are the most common reason for fire watch services to be scheduled. If a building has a fire alarm that is not working properly, then that building could catch fire and the fire department would not be notified. Some make the mistake of thinking that fire alarm related fire watch is not required for unoccupied buildings. Unfortunately, fire watch services are needed for buildings with malfunctioning fire alarms regardless of whether the building is occupied. Failure to schedule fire watch when a fire alarm system is malfunctioning can be seen as negligence resulting in insurance providers denying claims for damages incurred in the event of fire. Fire watch does not prevent fires. Fire watch services notify the fire department that a fire has started. Prompt reporting results in faster response from the fire department reducing the time a fire has to spread.
The affects of not scheduling fire watch services for occupied building are significantly more severe. Failure to schedule fire watch for an occupied building could result in a fire spreading and injuring the occupants. In some cases this can be seen as criminal negligence resulting in possible criminal prosecution and jail time if you are convicted. The criminal charges are in addition to possible civil litigation that could result in significant financial loss.
Sprinkler system malfunctioning
In some cases a building has a problem that is only affecting the sprinkler system. Many property managers make the error of thinking that the fact that the alarm itself if working negates the need for a fire watch. This is false. Most jurisdictions require fire watch service for malfunctioning sprinkler systems in the same manner as is required for malfunctioning alarms. Sprinklers are an important part of any fire system. A fire watch must be put in place until the system returns to operation. The consequences of failure to schedule fire watch when a sprinkler is down are no different from when a fire alarm is malfunctioning.
Burglar alarm or access control system not working
Fire watches are not solely used for situations involving potential fires. Fire watch service is also used if the access control system or burglar alarm is not working. If a building has an access control system such as a electronic key fob or other system designed to restrict access to a building, the property owner is responsible for implementing a fire watch until such systems return to being fully operational. Like in cases involving fire, insurance companies can and will use failure to have a fire watch in place as justification to deny claims. This typically involves insurance claims for damage done by individuals that entered a building while the access control system was malfunctioning. Some building managers make the error of propping a door open or completely disabling an access control system until it has been repaired. Property managers and building own do this at their own risk. Doing so could be a costly error.
So do you need fire watch service or not?
Remember, asking that question is a sign that you most likely need it. If you are unsure, contact your local fire marshal. However, if you have a situation where your fire alarm is not working, sprinkler system is down, or your access control system is not working, then you need to schedule fire watch service. If you have need assistance security companies who provide fire watch service such as Trust Security Services have dispatchers standing by 24/7. A security compnay can help you avoid these mistakes properties make when they need fire watch services.
Trust Security Services offers Firewatch service in the following juristictions:
Here are some additional artilcles about fire watch that you may find helpful: