1. Not getting firewatch patrol at all
Firewatch service is expensive. Some companies charge as much as $65 per hour for firewatch services. Some property owners and management companies calculate the chances of a fire occurring and decide not to schedule fire watch patrols when their fire alarm or sprinkler system is malfunctioning. This is a dangerous decision. If there is a fire, the property owner is responsible for the safety of every person and everything in the building. In some jurisdictions failure to secure firewatch services can result in criminal charges if someone gets injured.
2. Using your own staff for fire watch patrol
Property owners or property management companies using their own staff for firewatch services is a risky option. In such cases the property management companies or property owners are absorbing all of the liability for the service. The liability exposure is intensified by the fact that most property management companies or building owners do not have the proper insurance to provide fire watch services. As a result, the organization absorbs all of the liability with no protection from their insurance.
3. Hiring maintenance or facilities companies for firewatch service
Most jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia have no specific guidelines determining what organizations can provide fire watch services. This results in some less than reputable companies offering fire watch service. Some fire watch companies in Virginia and Maryland hire random daylaborers with no background checks or training of any kind. This is one of the many reasons why business owners need to be extra careful when hiring fire watch service in Virginia. This is not permitted for fire watchin Washington DC. DC has very specific guidelines detailing how fire watch service must be conducted and who can provide such services. According to the regulations determined by the District of Columbia Fire Marshall, only a licensed security company can provide fire watch service. Still considering doing it yourself? Read this article
4. Not using enough staff to patrol
Due to the last minute nature and significant cost of fire watch service many are tempted to cut corners by using less staff than is required. Though most jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia do not have regulations specifically defining how many officers are needed. However, most fire marshals recommend 2 officers per floor inside buildings and 1 officer per building for garden style apartments. For fire watch in Maryland or Virginia it is best to ask the fire marshal assigned to your building. Otherwise it is best to use 2 officers per floor. Even though there is no specific regulations, property owners are still liable if injury of property damage occurs due to their failure to hire enough fire watch personnel to adequately patrol the building. Unlike Maryland and Virginia, there are specific regulations for fire watch in Washington DC. DC regulations require a minimum of one officer for every 2 floors. There must be an additional officer to monitor the control panel and provide restroom breaks as needed. The number of officers required is applicable regardless of how many units are on the floors. At Trust Security Services, we have seen situations where buildings with a few as 4 units per floor still require 1 patrol officer per floor.
Firewatch patrol service is an important decision for an organization to make. It is a decision that carries significant responsibility. The worse thing that a property can do is deciding to not schedule firewatch service at all. After deciding to have firewatch service it is best to hire professionals rather than using your own employees. Have the firewatch company provide the number of patrol officers recomended by the fire marshal. In the abscence of athe fire marshal’s recomnedation, it is best to use a minimum of 1 patrol officer for every 2 floors. If in Washington DC make sure that you hire a licensed security company. If you are a property in needing fire watch service in Maryland, Washington DC or Virginia you may want to contact us to request service.