Summary: The purpose of this program is to establish guidelines outlining procedures to be taken in the event of impairment to a fire protection system. The 2020 Fire Code of New York State Section 901.7 states: “Where a required fire protection system is out of service, the Fire Department and the Code Enforcement Official shall be notified immediately, and the building shall either be evacuated or an approved fire watch shall be provided for all occupants left unprotected by the shut down until the fire protection system has been returned to service.” This program will outline the processes used to comply with the fire code.
- Program Description
- Program Components
- Reporting Requirements
As with any large scale fire protection and detection system, temporary shut downs and impairments of portions of the system are unavoidable. However, as required by the 2020 Fire Code of NYS Section 901.7, a program must exist explaining the procedures to be followed in the event of such impairment. An impairment is the planned or unplanned rendering of a fire protection or detection system, or any portion thereof, inoperable. This program shall outline the processes to be followed immediately following an emergency impairment, as well as the processes to be followed prior to authorization being received for a planned impairment. Coordination for impairments shall include the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), University Police (UPD), Facilities Management (FM), Facilities Design & Construction (FD&C), Facilities Operations (FOC), The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC), The New Paltz Fire Department (NPFD), SUNY administration, and any contractors involved. Planned impairment permit issuance will fall under the control of the Office of Emergency Management via the Impairment Coordinator and Code Enforcement Official (Director, OEM).
This program involves training to avoid impairments, proper planning, permit applications, fire watches, and signage. Unsupervised fire protection system or detection impairment has a very high potential for injury, death, and property loss; and SUNY New Paltz has great interest in protecting students, visitors, staff, and property from the dangers of fire and smoke.
Staff, contractors, and students who require impairment permits will receive training according to the following schedule:
- Prior to a person being designated as a qualified operator, or as a fire watch designee, as recognized by the Office of Emergency Management for the purpose of this program.
- At any point when staff, contractors, or students are deemed to have insufficient knowledge or skills to perform fire watch or recognize potential impairments.
- If a two year period has lapsed since the last Hot work/Fire alarm shutdown training an individual has received through SUNY New Paltz.
The purpose of this program is to establish guidelines outlining procedures to be taken in the event of impairment to a fire protection system. The Fire Code of NYS Section 901.7 states: “Where a required fire protection system is out of service, the Fire Department and the Code Enforcement Official shall be notified immediately, and the building shall either be evacuated or an approved fire watch shall be provided for all occupants left unprotected by the shut down until the fire protection or detection system has been returned to service.” This program will outline the processes used to comply with the fire code. These impairments could include entire systems, or a single portion of any system. At any time where an inoperable system part poses a potential for damage to property or risk to life safety from fire, an impairment is present and this plan must be instituted. This program applies to all SUNY New Paltz facilities and properties; owned, rented, and leased, and is designed for all students, staff, contractors, and guests.
The following individuals have responsibilities as part of the SUNY New Paltz Impairment Program:
3.1 SUNY Employees, staff, students, guests, contractors, and visitors
- Employees, staff, students, guests, contractors, and visitors must obey all signs and postings regarding impairments.
- Employees, staff, students, guests, contractors, and visitors must contact the Office of Emergency Management with any questions or concerns regarding impairments.
3.2 SUNY New Paltz Project Manager (FOC/FD&C/FM)/ Site Supervisor
- The Project Manager/Site Supervisor will identify any work that has the potential for creating dust, fumes, smoke, or similar alarm triggering material. They are responsible for following the steps set forth in this policy to avoid nuisance alarms.
- The Project Manager/Site Supervisor is responsible for completely (in its entirety) the Fire Alarm Impairment application and submitting it (in a timely fashion as per OEM guidelines) to the Office of Emergency Management.
- The Project Manager/Supervisor is responsible for coordinating with OEM the proper impairment each day of work, and ensuring verbally each day that the impairment has occurred prior to any work, and the system has been returned to proper operation after work is complete for the day. NO potentially alarm-triggering work shall occur at SUNY New Paltz without a designated Project Manager/Site Supervisor being assigned to complete the process described in this policy.
- The Project Manager/Site Supervisor is ultimately responsible for confirming that the impairment is appropriate and complete. This means that the Project Manager/Site Supervisor confirms with the Life Safety System Specialist conducting the impairment that the requisite floors, devices, buildings (specifically) are impaired BEFORE work, and completely returned to service AFTER work.
- The fire alarm system must be returned to the same or better condition after each impairment. Damage to the fire alarm system as a result of work in a building will need to be repaired immediately by the Project Manager/Site Supervisor or their designee.
- Repeated failure by a Project Manager/Site Supervisor to follow this procedure will result in a STOP WORK order and/or the denial of an application.
- Responsible for posting any occupational hazard signage as required by NYSFC 3503.6.
- Must maintain proficiency in use of the on-site fire alarm system, fire reporting methods, and evacuation procedures for the site.
- Coordinate with the Office of Emergency Management to ensure all permits and training records are maintained for 2 years after work is complete.
3.3 Fire Watch Designee
- Must be knowledgeable of the fire watch duties for the location(s) of impairment and required fire suppression equipment as outlined in NYSFC 3504.2.2-3504.2.6.
- Fire Watch Designee must be assigned solely to the function of being a human fire detection and reporting system. The fire watch designee may only be assigned to constant patrols of the effected area, on all floors, in all rooms, corridors, and halls, including mechanical and electrical rooms. This person, once designated, may not perform any other work function on the job site.
- Fire Watch Designee must be competent in the use of fire extinguishers, as well as the proper reporting methods for notifying University Police in the event of a fire related incident. The Fire Watch Designee must be provided with at least one adequate means of reporting a fire related incident to University Police, (Default: Cell Phone)
- The Fire Watch Designee must be physically capable of assisting people in a fire incident to safety. This person must also be capable of utilizing a mega-phone for the purpose of alerting occupants of danger.
- Coordinate with the site supervisor, and follow any direction given by NYSOFPC, Office of Emergency Management, State University Police or New Paltz Fire Department personnel regarding safety or hazards.
- Maintain proficiency in evacuation procedures for the location(s).
3.4 Impairment Coordinator
- The Director of the Office of Emergency Management has been designated as the Impairment Coordinator and the Code Enforcement Official. The Impairment Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that this program is followed and all fire codes are obeyed during any impairment. In the absence of the Director of the Office of Emergency Management, the Assistant Director, the Life Safety System Specialist, the Associate Director of Environmental Health & Safety, or the Occupational Health & Safety Specialist will act as the impairment coordinator, in that respective order.
- The Impairment Coordinator (and Code Enforcement Official together if different) have final say in all code issues, and are empowered to order the evacuation of any area found to be in violation of campus policy or the Fire Code of NYS. This includes the immediate evacuation of contractors, students, staff, guests, visitors, etc.
- The Impairment Coordinator is responsible for monitoring any scheduled or emergent outages and must ensure that the system is retuned to service.
- The Impairment Coordinator is responsible for notifying UPD, OFPC, and NPFD immediately of any significant impairment.
- In the event that a proper fire watch cannot be instituted, the impairment coordinator is responsible for ordering the evacuation of the building.
- The Impairment Coordinator will approve requests where appropriate. The Project Manager/Supervisor for the related work is responsible for submitting the appropriate permit requests for the impairment, and ensuring the impairment is appropriate and sufficient. The Project Manager/Supervisor will be responsible for ensuring that the impairment occurs prior to work starting and that the system has been returned to proper operation after work is complete for the day.
3.5 Office of Emergency Management
- The Life Safety System Specialist is responsible for confirming that all shutdown procedures related to equipment have been followed. The Life Safety System Specialist will disable fire alarm components related to scheduled and emergent impairments. In the absence of the Life Safety System Specialist, the Assistant Director of OEM, the Director of OEM, or Facilities Operations will assume the role of monitoring impairments daily, in that respective order.
- The Life Safety System Specialist is responsible for returning the system to service when advised to do so by the Project Manager/Supervisor, or as authorized by the Impairment Coordinator.
- Oversee and manage the implementation of this program and resolve any issues not covered in this program.
- Ensure that the impairment program is audited yearly, and updated when needed.
3.6 SUNY New Paltz Facility Operations (FOC)
- The designated plumber is responsible for confirming that all procedures related to equipment have been followed.
- The designated plumber is responsible for returning the system to service when advised to do so by the Project Manager/Supervisor as authorized by the Impairment Coordinator.
4.1 Scheduled Impairments
- Whenever a member of the campus community, particularly contractors, are to be engaged in work that has the potential of causing dust, smoke, dirt, lint, haze, fog, mist, steam, water vapor, or other airborne particulates that may activate a fire alarm device, they must follow the steps of this program necessary to schedule an impairment and avoid accidental alarm activations. It is the responsibility of the contractor to recognize the possibility for fire alarm activations due to the work they are conducting, and it remains the contractor’s responsibility to coordinate with the SUNY New Paltz Project Manager/Site Supervisor for the impairment. This includes:
- Submitting written notice of need for impairment to the SUNY New Paltz liaison for that project.
- Scheduling training for necessary employees with SUNY New Paltz Facilities Design & Construction for proper procedures in covering smoke and heat detectors.
- Notifying SUNY New Paltz Facilities Design & Construction liaison of the need for Fire Watch and fire extinguisher training for any applicable employees.
- Proper application and removal of any detector coverings so as to avoid activation. Facilities Design & Construction campus standard policy is to be followed, including the use of powder free latex or nitrile gloves or shower caps and painters’ tape, and the procedures for disabling alarms only prior to application and after removal of coverings.
- If a contractor or other individual requires an impairment be instituted for the purpose of avoiding false fire alarm activations, or to do system maintenance, requests must be submitted to the Office of Emergency Management a minimum of three workdays prior to the beginning of the impairment, as per FOC policy for scheduling. This request must include:
- The extent and expected duration of the impairment.
- The areas or buildings involved.
- Names of: requester, contracting company, department head(s) of affected areas, alarm companies with systems in effected area, time work is scheduled, type of work scheduled, recommended type and extent of impairment necessary to complete work, fire watch designee, and site supervisor.
- Direct cell phone and email for the SUNY New Paltz Project Manager/Supervisor who will be overseeing the impairment/work.
- The portions of the fire detection system to be disabled.
- The name(s) of the qualified fire watch designee(s).
The Office of Emergency Management will review scheduled impairment requests and notify the Supervisor about approved timeframes. If OEM cannot fulfill an impairment request, a work order for the FOC Electric Shop will be generated. FOC will make the determination if the impairment can be scheduled in time with current staffing. Impairments outside of core work hours may be subject to overtime charges being incurred on the requester.
4.2 Emergency Impairments
- As per the Fire Code of NYS Section 901.7.5, “When unplanned impairments occur, appropriate emergency action shall be taken to minimize potential injury and damage. The impairment coordinator shall implement the steps outlined in the Fire Code of NYS Section 901.7.4”. These steps include:
- Determine the extent and expected duration of the impairment.
- Determine the areas or buildings involved.
- Determine any increased risks in effected areas.
- If significant, notification made to Fire Department by Impairment Coordinator.
- If significant, notification made to OFPC by Impairment Coordinator.
- Notification made to the University Police by FOC personnel first informed of impairment.
- Order evacuation or institute a fire watch.
- Ensure repair can be done in a timely fashion.
- These impairments can include damage to systems such as sprinklers, hydrants, smoke detectors, heat detectors, fire pumps, Fire Department connections, fire alarm panels, supervising station, etc.
4.3 Restoring System to Service
- As per the NYSFC Section 901.7.6, “When impaired equipment is restored to normal working order, the impairment coordinator shall verify that all of the following procedures have been implemented:”
- Necessary inspections and tests have been conducted to verify that affected systems are operational. Commissioning approved by Code Enforcement Official prior to restoration.
- When appropriate, the Fire Department has been advised that protection is restored.
- When appropriate, OFPC has been notified that protection is restored.
- University Police has been notified that protection if restored.
4.4 Impairment tagging system
- Tag required
- As per NYSFC Section 901.7.2: “A tag shall be used to indicate that a system, or portion thereof, has been removed from service.” At SUNY New Paltz, that tag shall be the approved Impairment Request Application. Both OEM and the Project Manager/ Site Supervisor will receive approved permits by email.
- Placement of tag
- As per NYSFC Section 901.7.3: “The tag shall be posted at each fire department connection, system control valve, fire alarm control unit, fire alarm annunciator and fire command center, indicating the system, or part thereof, has been removed from service. The code enforcement official shall specify where the tag is to be placed.” At SUNY New Paltz, that tag shall be placed at the main FACP for the affected building if it is a fire alarm system impairment.
- Removal of tag
- It shall be mandatory that at the conclusion of an impairment, that all tags indicating the presence of that impairment be removed. This shall be done at the direction of the Project Manager/Supervisor.
5.1 Notification to required agencies.
- The following agencies shall immediately be notified during any significant impairment, (multiple floors, entire building, occupied assembly areas, long term impairment more than 1 week, etc.):
- OEM; Impairment Coordinator
- UPD; Dispatcher
- NPFD; Chief/OIC
- OFPC; Notification to be made by impairment coordinator, (if a system will be significantly impaired).
6.1 As per NYSFC Section 901.7: “The Code Enforcement Official is permitted to waive the requirement for evacuation or a fire watch where there is not a substantial risk to life safety or where alternatives to maintain an equivalent level of safety are prescribed.”
7.1 Alarm Notification Appliance:
- A fire alarm system component such as a bell, horn, speaker, light, or text display that provides audible, tactile, or visible outputs, or any combination thereof.
7.2 Alarm Signal:
- A signal indicating an emergency requiring immediate action, such as a signal indicative of fire.
7.3 Fire Protection System:
- Approved devices, equipment, and systems or combinations of systems used to detect a fire, activate an alarm, extinguish or control a fire, control or manage smoke and products of fire or any combination thereof.
7.4 Supervising Station:
- A facility that receives signals and at which personnel are in attendance at all times to respond to these signals.
Procedures to be followed for a minor emergency impairment:
- Heating Plant receives notification at 2:15 AM of a burst pipe in Coykendall Science Building 2nd Heating Plant responds.
- Heating Plant staff on scene finds water coming from 2 smoke detectors in area on second floor.
- Heating Plant contacts the appropriate electrician.
- Electrician responds to scene, determines that the 2 heads need to be taken out of service, and replaced at a later date.
- Electrician notifies Impairment Coordinator (email, office voicemail) that he is going to take the 2 smoke detectors on the second floor of CSB out of service.
- Electrician notifies UPD the he will be disabling 2 smoke detectors, where, and why.
Procedures to be followed for a significant emergency impairment involving a fire alarm system:
- UPD receives fire alarm activation for Lenape Hall 3rd floor hallway smoke detector.
- UPD dispatches NPFD and responds to scene. NPFD investigates and finds the cause of the alarm to be a lightning strike has impacted the electrical system in the building, causing a complete failure of the fire alarm system for Lenape Hall. UPD contacts an electrician to respond.
- Electrician confirms that entire fire alarm system is out of service for Lenape Hall.
- UPD contacts Impairment Coordinator.
- Impairment Coordinator institutes a fire watch or evacuation.
- Impairment Coordinator notifies OFPC immediately.
- Impairment Coordinator confirms Fire Chief is aware of impairment.
Procedures to be followed for a significant emergency impairment involving a sprinkler system:
- UPD receives a report of a motor vehicle accident, vehicle into a building at Bouton Hall
- UPD dispatches Fire Department and EMS to the scene.
- Arriving officers find a vehicle accelerated from a parking spot and struck the Fire Department connection for Bouton Hall sprinkler system, rendering it inoperable.
- UPD contacts the Office of Emergency Management.
- OEM advises UPD that the sprinkler system is out of service until the connection is repaired.
- UPD/OEM contacts the impairment coordinator.
- The impairment coordinator institutes a fire watch in the building, notifies OFPC and Residence Life.
- Building is permitted to be reoccupied when system is returned to service.