Fire Watch

Q: Your recent answer regarding fire watches left me confused and requesting the clarification that follows. Your answer seems to imply that a fire watch is required anytime the sprinkler system is impaired within the construction space. The last sentence notes that the fire watch does not affect the rated barrier (because just having a fire watch does not eliminate the need for the 1-hour barrier where sprinklers are impaired). However, it seems to me that the original question posed is whether the 1-hour barrier eliminates the need for the fire watch. My understanding previously is that if the construction space is separated by a 1-hour barrier then a fire watch is not required. Is my understanding incorrect? Does the use of a 2-hour rated barrier change any of these requirements?

A: Sorry. No, your understanding is not correct. The need to conduct a fire watch is based on whether or not the required fire alarm system is impaired (see section 9.6.1.6 of the 2012 LSC) or the required sprinkler system is impaired (see section 15.5.2 (4) of NFPA 25-2011). It has nothing to do with the level of fire-rating on the temporary construction barriers. Increasing the temporary construction barrier to a 2-hour rating does not change the need to conduct a fire watch.

Brad Keyes
Brad Keyes, CHSP

Brad is a former advisor to Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) and former Joint Commission LS surveyor. He guides clients through  organizational assessment; management training; ongoing coaching of task groups; and extensive one-on-one coaching of facility leaders. He analyzes and develops leadership effectiveness and efficiency in work processes, focusing on assessing an organization’s preparedness for a survey, evaluating processes in achieving preparedness, and guiding organizations toward compliance. 

As a presenter at national seminars, regional conferences, and audio conferences, Brad teaches the Keyes Life Safety Boot Camp series to various groups and organizations. He is the author or co-author of many HCPro books, including the best-selling  Analyzing the Hospital Life Safety Survey, now in its 3rd edition. Brad has also authored a variety of articles in numerous publications addressing features of life safety and fire protection, as well as white papers and articles on the Building Maintenance Program. Currently serving as the contributing editor of the monthly HCPro newsletter Healthcare Life Safety Compliance  gives Brad further insight into the industry’s trends and best practices.