Skip Maine state header navigation

Agencies | Online Services | Help

Skip First Level Navigation | Skip All Navigation

Home > Fire Sprinklers > Policies > Fire Watch

Fire Watch Policy (Having to do with shutdowns while working on a fire sprinkler system)

NFPA 101, (2009 edition), section states: “Where a required automatic sprinkler system is out of service for more than 4 hours in a 24-hour period, the authority having jurisdiction shall be notified, and the building shall be evacuated or an approved fire watch shall be provided for all parties left unprotected by the shutdown until the sprinkler system has been returned to service.”

When you read on to section, this states that the impairment procedure is to be done according to NFPA 25, which has a whole chapter, (Chapter 15), dedicated to impairments. This chapter allows the system to be shut down for 10 hours in a 24 hour period, (section 15.5.2 [4]), without having to have a fire watch or an evacuation.  Did you notice the contradiction?  Is it going to be 4 hours or 10 hours?  As a general rule our office holds to the more stringent 4-hour minimum in NFPA 101.  Special exceptions may be granted by our office, particularly for buildings with low occupancy and/or no overnight occupancy.

NFPA 101 basically says that when the system is down for more than 4 hours, then either do a fire watch or evacuate.  But I have the full excerpt from NFPA 25, (2011 edition), reference below, which gives two other options.  One of these options is to provide a temporary water supply and the other is to minimize the hazards & fuel loads. 

Regardless of the four options, both NFPA 101 and NFPA 25 want the Authority Having Jurisdiction involved in the impairment procedure planning since each situation is different.  Our office expects to be notified for all impairment procedure planning in facilities that are licensed with the Dept of Health & Human Services where the fire sprinkler system will be shut down for more than 4 hours in a 24 hour period.  The facility director will know which of our field inspectors to contact and how to contact them.  The local fire department should also be contacted.

Then NFPA 25, (2011 edition), section 15.5.2. states:  “…Where a required fire protection system is out of service for more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period, the impairment coordinator shall arrange for one of the following:…” 

            (a) Evacuation of the building or portion of the building affected by the system out of service

            (b)* An approved fire watch

            Annex Note: A fire watch should consist of trained personnel who continuously patrol the affected area. Ready access to fire extinguishers and the ability to promptly notify the fire department are important items to consider. During the patrol of the area, the person should not only be looking for fire, but making sure that the other fire protection features of the building such as egress routes and alarm systems are available and functioning properly.

            (c)* Establishment of a temporary water supply

            Annex Note: Temporary water supplies are possible from a number of sources including use of a large-diameter hose from a fire hydrant to a fire department connection, use of a portable tank and a portable pump, or use of a standby fire department pumper and/or tanker.

            (d)* Establishment and implementation of an approved program to eliminate potential ignition sources and limit the amount of fuel available to the fire.

            Annex Note: Depending on the use and occupancy of the building, it could be enough in some circumstances to stop certain processes in the building or to cut off the flow of fuel to some machines. It is also helpful to implement “No Smoking” and “No Hot Work” (cutting, grinding, or welding) policies while the system is out of service because these activities are responsible for many fire ignitions.


[Last updated 1-11-12. Previously updated 7-12-10. First posted 4-10-08.]