Is Your Fire Watch Program Up To Code?

What is a Fire Watch?
In Canada and the US, there are regulations such as the the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and jurisdictional Fire Codes that require buildings equipped with fire alarm systems and sprinkler systems to be fully operational at all times. In the event that any of these systems are off-line for any reason whatsoever, or there is the presence of Hot Works being performed, a Fire Watch inspection program is to be implemented immediately.

A Fire Watch inspection program is the regular, physical inspection of the area to ensure a fire does not start. This inspection should be completed once every hour. A Fire Watch inspection program needs to be implemented if there are life safety systems that are offline and/or there is Hot Works being performed. 

Hot Works Info  

Did you know? [i]
Hot Works is defined as any process involving flame, spark or heat production. This includes work such as cutting, welding, soldering, grinding etc.

  • The Fire Watch work area must be inspected at least once each hour 
  • The Fire Watch personnel must be equipped with a fire extinguisher and PPE
  • The Fire Watch must be conducted from the start of the Hot Works until at least 3 hours after the work has been completed

Who completes the Hot Works Fire Watch?
A Hot Works Fire Watch team must consist of three trained individuals, all of whom have the responsibility and authority to stop the hot work if the situation becomes unsafe:
  • The permit authorizing individual – a member of the Management team.
  • The hot work operator – professionally trained for the job.
  • The Fire Watch – this individual conducts regular inspections of the area and job, and is generally a member of the security team.

Why does this matter to you? [ii]
What are the penalties?
According to the NFPA, from 2010-2014 fire departments in the United States responded to an estimated average of 4,440 structure fires per year involving equipment associated with hot work.

These fires caused an annual average of:

  • 12 civilian deaths
  • 208 civilian injuries
  • $287 million in property damage

Closer to home: [iii]
  • Over 300+ Toronto building owners were charged with fire code violations in 2016.
  • Fire code fines totaling $1,550,297 were imposed on Toronto building owners in 2015.
  • Fire code fines totaling $1,464,929 were imposed on Toronto building owners in 2014.

At minimum, failing to provide Fire Watch documentation of inspections can result in multiple offences and fines ranging from $195-$295 each.[iv]

If it is deemed by the authorities that the Fire Prevention Act has been violated, the following penalties can be incurred: [v]

  • A corporation is liable to a fine of up to $100,000
  • An individual is liable to a fine of up to $50,000 and/or
  • Members of both a corporation or an individual may face up to 1 year imprisonment
Know the code, implement a proper Fire Watch program at your building and stay on top of your documented inspections. Fire Safety is not something that you can let fall through the cracks.

The stakes are too high. Don’t assume your Fire Watch is being completed. Digital options are available to ensure that the Hot Works area and/or the area with offline life safety systems are being inspected at least once every hour as required by law.

For more information, or for a consultation on Fire Watch, please contact

[i] Section of the Ontario Fire Code
[iii] Rider, David. The Star. Landlord fined $71,000 after fatal Jane St. apartment fire. July 18, 2016.
[iv] Regulation 213/07 under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997.