Whenever the fire sprinkler or fire alarm system in a building is malfunctioning, the building owner or management company is required to hire a Virginia fire watch patrol service to patrol the building and watch for signs of fire. Any situation dealing with fire must be handled with the utmost amount of seriousness. This is especially true when contracting with a fire watch company in Virginia. Last week we encountered a situation where a customer in Alexandria, VA was previously getting fire watch service from a property management company that was using day laborers to provide fire watch patrols. The scary part is that in Virginia it is legal to do so. There are many reasons to be extra careful when hiring fire watch in Virginia.
Firstly let’s review what a firewatch is. Whenever a fire alarm or fire sprinkler system is not working properly businesses must hire fire watch patrol officers to walk the building and be watchful for signs of fire. they are human fire alarms.
There are no statewide fire watch regulations
The Virginia State Government lets each jurisdiction determine their fire watch rules. Each city and county in is different. This is one of the many things to consider when selecting fire watch services. You could be compliant in one county and not compliant in the city directly adjacent to it. In many jurisdictions the only determining factors is the opinion of the individual fire marshal assigned to your building and the accepted standard of having the fire watch be on-site writing their observations in a log book. You need a fire watch company that is familiar with the local regulations. This is an essential part of hiring a Virginia Fire Watch Company.
There are no licensing requirements for fire watch in VA
Anyone can company can provide fire watch in Virginia. Many other states require companies offering fire watch services to have a security agency license. In Virginia, it can be anyone from any company. Dominos pizza can provide fire watch services in Virginia. It is common for some companies to hire random day laborers off the street with no background checks or fire watch training. Some building owners or property management companies make the common mistake of using their custodian for maintenance man for fire watch. For this reasons many smart business owners only hire licensed security companies for fire watch. They know that fire watch officers from a security company will be properly equipped.
Some companies providing fire watch do not have the proper insurance coverage
Fire watch service is considered by the insurance industry to be security related. Since you don’t have to be a security company to provide fire watch in Virginia many companies offering fire watch, do not have proper insurance coverage. Most companies see fire watch as a secondary business. It is not their focus. As a result, many of these businesses only have coverage that pertains to their primary business.
Many fire watch companies in Virginia do not have enough staff
Fire watches often extend longer than expected. In many cases, they may stretch for several days or weeks. Many companies see fire watch as secondary business and thus do not have extra staff on standby for fire watch service. As a result, they run out of staff and do not have replacements if an employee calls off sick or doesn’t report for duty. This could cause a gap in coverage resulting in a fine fa penalty building owner.
When it comes to firewatch Virginia is the wild wild west. Some see this lack of regulation and think to themselves “Great, I can do whatever I want.” It is important to remember that the absence of regulations does not eliminate your liability if something goes wrong. Smart business owners in Virginia hire licensed security companies with significant fire watch experience. Contracting with a licensed security agency ensures that basic background checks have been performed and that the companies have proven themselves capable of passing the scrutiny of the state. We recommend our company.