What is a Fire Watch Security?

March 17, 2023

Fire Watch Security

Fire Watch Security protection and prevention systems are designed to alert you when there is a fire. But wouldn’t it be better if there was a way to warn you about fire hazards and potentially save you from a lot of damage? Well, there is. The most reliable way to stay ahead of a fire is to hire a fire watch guard. 

What is a fire watch? 

A fire is a person or persons who acts as a “human smoke detector”. This personnel is trained to strictly watch over a property and notify the occupants at the slightest sign of smoke or fire. Their primary responsibility is to patrol, observe, stay alert, and respond to indicators of fire. 

Let’s take a detailed look at what a fire watch involves, who needs it, and where you can get them. 

In this article: 

  • Who is a Fire Watchs 
  • What Does a Fire-Watch Do 
  • Types of Fire Watch
  • How to Become a Fire Watch
  • Who Needs a Fire Watch
  • How to Choose a Fire Watch

Who is a Fire Watch?

A fire watch Security is referred to as a person or group stationed at locations susceptible to fire due to any reason and qualified to detect and prevent fire. Continuous monitoring of the area and the authority to cease work in the presence of a threat or until essential safety measures are taken are required of fire watch personnel.

Fire watch security services include guarding against fires at work sites. That conduct potentially hazardous tasks such as soldering, thawing, welding, brazing, cutting, and grinding. 

A fire watch cannot engage in any other activity on the site. Their sole duty is to prevent a fire. The personnel should check the work area, look for obstacles, pay attention to exit routes, and clear anything that could obstruct a safe evacuation. 

If they notice any spark, heat, slag, or smoke, they will inform the people on the property and alert emergency fire personnel. Fire persons also have access to fire-extinguishing equipment in case of minor, manageable mishaps and are trained to use them. 

Use of electrical, heating, lighting, and cooking equipment. Presence of combustible material, heavy machinery, dysfunctional alarm and sprinkler systems, hot work, etc. 

What Does a Fire Watch Do – Duties and Responsibilities

The personnel assigned as fire watch are thoroughly trained and tested so they can identify fire hazards and indicators, and inform the authorities timely. The duties and responsibilities of a fire security Security guard include:

  • Conduct a constant patrol of the area every 30 minutes
  • Look into stairwells, and open doors, and note that every exit route is accessible and free from obstacles
  • See if emergency systems and fire alarms are working properly
  • Look for signs of fire, smoke, and indicators of a hazard
  • Know the floor plan of the building, emergency shutdown procedures, hazardous areas, and emergency evacuation plans
  • Check for any sources of ignition or smoking violations
  • Always keep at least one means of radio-frequency communication with the Fire Department
  • Inspect sprinkler systems for leakage, sprinkler head obstruction, decreased pressure, or closed valves
  • Check the safety of garbage, trash, and excess combustible material disposal
  • Maintain a logbook of activity 

In case the fire watch guard notices the first sign of smoke or fire, they must:

  • Communicate with building occupants and conduct a safe evacuation
  • Contact and coordinate with the Fire Department and building management when they detect a fire and again when it’s been attended to
  • Attain any required permits and get a licensed contractor to repair a broken fire or alarm system

Types of Fire Watch

watchThere are three major types of fire-watch common in the industry. 

Permanent Fire Watch 

As the name suggests, a permanent fire watches guard is positioned at a site that requires supervision for undefined or relatively longer periods. 

This typically includes construction sites with hot work under process. Hot work is an umbrella term covering flame-producing work such as using a torch, welding, or spark-inducing machinery. 

Active welding sites and hot work zones need a fire until fire suppression systems have been installed and activated.

Temporary Fire Watch

A temporary fire watch is required when fire suppression systems are under maintenance or out of order for more than four hours in a twenty-four-hour period. The building or facility facing issues with alarm and sprinkler systems is obligated to notify the local authorities and establish a temporary fire watch.

The building facility is required to familiarize the fire watchs guard with site-specific emergency plans, maps, and exit routes, and provide them access to clear modes of communication. All other duties of the fire watch remain the same. 

The duration of this temporary fire is determined on a case-by-case basis. The temporary fire watcher is required to patrol no more than one-hour intervals in most cases. For example, the facilities may hire a temporary fire watch during the demolition of a building that involves certain potentially hazardous exercises. 

Special Event Fire

Any event that caters to large gatherings of people should have certified and trained fire watchs personnel on-site to keep a close eye out for potential fire hazards. These special events include concerts, festivals, trade shows, sporting events, etc.

Special event fire watchers ensure public safety in places of congregation. They’re specifically trained to have an excellent grip on evacuation plans, alarm systems, communication with fire departments, and panic control, and have a keen observation.

How to Become a Fire Watch? – Qualifications and Training Requirements

The prerequisites to becoming a fire watch aren’t too strict or demanding, but committing to this job comes with great responsibility. 

If you plan to become a fire, know that a single moment of distraction can cost lives. Just like that, a timely warning can save many. Here’s a list of all the certifications and training you need to become a fire watch: 

Educational Requirements

Here’s what you need to become a certified fire :

  • A high school diploma or GED certificate. 
  • A fire watch training course that covers OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards. 
  • You should be above the age of 18.

Physical and Mental Requirements

A few must-haves for a fire watch security guard include:

  • Physical stamina, strength, and mobility 
  • Detail-oriented and sharp observation skills
  • Ability to work long hours
  • Clear and effective communication skills
  • Ability to stay focused and alert under pressure and stressful situations

Training Requirements

Candidates must take a training course from a reputable organization that has experts and resources for thorough preparation. So the course primarily teaches how to recognize signs of fire, point out and deal with fire hazards, prevent fires, and take action in case of a serious outbreak. 

The training should also teach the correct classification of the type and nature of fire and their respective treatments, hot work, and planning work operations to prevent fires. A fire watch trainee also learns how different alarm systems and evacuation plans work and people skills to deal with emergencies. 

A few fire watcher training are also tailored and specialized for a certain industry or worksite. But generally, fire safety training focuses on pre-shift inspections, safety regulations, best practices, and real-life studies. 

Certifications and Licensing

Fire watch personnel should be qualified to watch patrols, maintain watch logs, and know the national fire code to deal with all fire-related threats. 

Once a prospect completes their training for fire watch, they get a completion certificate and license to practice as a fire watch guard. The license indicates that they have the necessary knowledge and are fully equipped to tackle fire-related issues. 

NOTE: A history of emergency response training or experience can significantly increase your chances of employment.

Who Needs a Fire

Anytime your property is at the slightest risk of fire, you need to make sure there’s a fire watch security guard on the lookout. However, if you’re unsure if your business or work site requires a fire watch security, here’s a list that summarizes who needs it:

Construction and Demolition Sites 

There are several dire hazards amidst a construction zone due to materials, equipment, and hot work. Construction sites are required by law to have fire watch guards in many jurisdictions. Failure to do this until the construction is complete could result in fines and penalties. 

This is because fires can spiral out of control pretty quickly on construction or demolition sites since there’s no alarm system connected. Both construction and demolition sites have power tools, combustible materials, and the water supply is shut off, making them high-risk spaces. 

Parking Spaces

Parking lots and structures such as shopping malls, apartment blocks, or multi-tenant buildings that have parking spaces need a fire watch to prevent fire outbreaks. Vehicles can catch and spread fires rapidly, so these areas are high-risk and need extra protection. 

Sites with Interrupted Water Supply

Natural disasters, frozen or burst pipes, or construction can disrupt your water supply. If your business or residence has a sprinkler system that’s out of function or having issues, you need to get fire watch guards to ensure the safety of the residents. 

Sites with Malfunctioning Alarm Systems

If your property is going through an unexpected malfunction in its sprinkler system or fire alarm, or these systems are inactive for maintenance or repair, you need fire guards to warden the area. 

Similarly, your local fire marshal may require you to hire fire guards on your new property that doesn’t have a fire alarm system installed yet. The same goes for buildings where the systems are under repair or replacement process. 

Educational Institutes

Schools, colleges, and universities need to have a fire to mitigate any chances of a fire. Even if all the alarm and sprinkler systems are working perfectly fine, educational institutions need to be safeguarded by a fire watch’s sharp eye. 

Property Owners

Building owners of any sort, be it commercial, residential, or industrial, need fire guards to safeguard their properties and assets. A fire is trailed and skilled to keep a close look for signs of a fire and save you tons of money.  

Dense Crowds

Events like concerts, festivals, trade shows, sports, restaurants, movie sets, large engagements, school campuses, etc. So have large gatherings of people. Such congregations should always have a fire guard on duty to keep a close eye on fire hazards.   

Other Instances When a Fire Watch is Needed

A few other times when investing in a fire watch is recommended:

  • When a new construction site classified as Type III (ordinary building with wooden roof), Type IV (buildings made with thick timber), or Type V (buildings with combustible frame and roof) building reaches 40 feet in height

  • When a new construction classified as Type III, Type IV, or Type V building includes an aggregate area exceeding 50,000 square feet

  • During hot work such as Slag, weld splatter, or sparks that might pass through an opening and cause a fire

  • A power outage that affects the fire suppression system is pre-planned for a period that exceeds four hours. The fire marshal often requires notification for conditions like these. *Check with your local authorities for local requirements.

    • During non-working hours from the time that a construction reaches a height above 40 feet or an area of 50,000 square feet until the fire alarm or fire suppression system has been certified

    How and Where to Get a Fire Watch

    While fires can cause great damage. Regardless of the type of property you have, the risk of fire is always there. There are several companies offering fire services, but picking the right one is the key. 

    When choosing a company to handle the fire for you, a reputable and trustworthy company like Professional Security Guard Inc. tops the list. Here are a few key points to consider while choosing a fire protection services company:

    • Reputation: Word of mouth and a company’s social standing are true measures of the quality of its services. Always check the track record of the company with their previous clients from reviews and ratings. A good fire watch company will offer tailored fire solutions to match your specific needs. 

    • License and Certifications: Make sure that the licenses are in order. A professionally certified and trained guard knows when to conduct patrols, maintains proper watch logs, and knows the national fire code to effectively prevent fires. 

    • Check Their Specialty: Ensure that the company you’re considering has enough experience in the field or industry they specialize in. The extent of their expertise in a specific area should match your needs. 

    • Explore Plans and Systems Offered: Analyze the company’s tools, plans, and protocols and choose what matches your requirements.

    What is a Fire Watch? Final Word

    Fire watch security guards have immense responsibility guarding and watching over a property for signs of fire. It won’t be an overstatement to say that. This personnel is an important tool for safe work conditions and peace of mind for many property owners. 

    If you wish to hire a fire guard. Our professional and certified experts at Professional Security Guard are just a few taps away. 

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