Office of Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety

Fire Protection Impairment Program


This program applies to University of Northern Iowa (UNI) employees and contractors when a fire protection system is taken out of service due to construction, alteration, repair or an emergency condition. These procedures include measures taken to ensure that increased risks are minimized and that the duration of the impairment is limited.


The following definitions apply to this program:

Fire Protection Systems: Sprinkler systems, standpipe systems, fire hose systems, underground fire service mains, fire pumps, water storage tanks, water spray fixed systems, foam-water systems, special extinguishing systems, fire service control valves, fire alarms systems, and emergency lights.

Fire Watch: A temporary measure intended to ensure continuous and systematic surveillance of a building or portion thereof by one or more qualified individuals for the purposes of identifying and controlling fire hazards, detecting early signs of unwanted fire, raising an alarm of fire and notifying the fire department.  A person assigned to fire watch shall have no other duties and be solely committed to the duties of fire watch.

Impairment: A shutdown, in whole or part, of a fire protection system due to:

Emergency impairment: when a fire protection system is out of service due to an unexpected occurrence, such as a ruptured pipe or an unexpected power outage.

Planned impairment: when a fire protection system is out of service due to work that has been planned in advance, such as revisions to the water supply or sprinkler piping system.

Limited impairment: A number of components of a fire protection system are found defective or removed from service. A limited impairment represents a minimal impact to the overall life safety of building occupants.

Total impairment: a shutdown of an entire fire protection system, or major portion, significantly affecting occupant life safety.

Impairment Coordinator (IC): The person who manages any impairment and has overall responsibility for proper implementation of the Fire Protection Impairment Program. The Director of Risk Management or his/her designee shall serve as the IC.



This policy applies to all UNI employees, outside contractors and their representatives, or any company representative hired by UNI to provide services or any outside trade workers who will be working on university property.


The IC is permitted to waive the fire watch requirement if there is not a substantial risk to life safety or if alternatives to maintain an equivalent level of safety are prescribed;Routine testing and maintenance which does not present a significant risk to occupants or property; or Total renovation of a building.

Fire Protection Impairment Work Procedures

The following procedures shall be followed when a fire protection system is impaired:


Before Completing Work

When a fire protection system is impaired, the personnel conducting the work shall make the following notifications:

  • During regular business hours, the Physical Plant dispatcher shall be notified; or
  • During weekends and non-traditional work hours, the Public Safety dispatcher shall be notified.

The following information shall be communicated to the above personnel:

  • Scope and extent of the impairment;
  • Areas affected by the impairment; and
  • Anticipated completion date and time of impairment.

The appropriate dispatcher will contact the IC who will contact the on duty Battalion Chief at Cedar Falls Fire Rescue.

The IC will enter the impairment in the impairment monitoring program.

Completion of Work

Personnel conducting work shall notify the appropriate dispatcher upon returning impaired systems to a condition of readiness.

The dispatcher will contact the IC who will contact the on duty Battalion Chief at Cedar Falls Fire Rescue.  

The IC will enter the end of the impairment in the impairment monitoring program.

Fire Watch

A fire watch shall be implemented in the event of a fire protection system impairment. On-duty fire watch personnel shall have only the sole duty of fire watch responsibilities. Further information regarding duties and responsibilities of a fire watch are available from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.


Contact Name: 
Environmental Health and Safety
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