New Fire Watch Requirements in Philadelphia
In September, the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections issued a Code Bulletin regarding new requirements for keeping a fire watch on construction and demolition sites. Fires on construction sites pose a potentially huge risk to lives, businesses, and the surrounding community.
According to the code bulletin, all active construction sites in the city of Philadelphia must comply with the outlined requirements by November 1, 2020.
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.