What Is a Fire Watch And When Do You Need One? 

Do you know that a fire breaks out in the USA every 23 seconds making high alert for the fire department to handle the situation immediately?

Ask yourself! Is your workplace safe? Do you need fire watch services?

Well, a fire can start unexpectedly and spread rapidly, causing significant damage to property and putting employees and customers in danger.

Unless a fire watch is maintained, these hazards may go undetected, resulting in disastrous consequences. It is tremendously important to understand what a fire watch is, as well as the role of a fire watch security guard and their duties.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) defines a fire watch as “a person or persons assigned to a particular area in order to notify the fire department, building occupants, or both of them of an emergency; to prevent fires; to extinguish small fires; or to protect the public from fire or life safety hazards.”.”

Simply put, a fire watch is a person equipped with fire suppression equipment responsible for keeping an eye on an area that doesn’t have automatic fire warning systems or fire suppression systems and may pose a threat to fire.

A fire watch guard regularly patrols the area to be watched for fires, and take immediate action if one occurs.

A fire watch’s primary objective is to prevent fires from starting in the first place. A fire watch helps to keep people and property safe by identifying and addressing potential hazards. In the case of an actual fire, the fire watch is also responsible for notifying the appropriate authorities and assisting in evacuating the area.

In this article, you’ll get to know more about fire watch security services to help you ensure a safe and sound workplace.

When is a Fire Watch Needed?

Generally, a fire watch is needed whenever there is an increased risk of fire that cannot be adequately managed by existing fire protection measures. For example, where hot works (work with welding and other fire hazards) are taking place and where there is no fire warning system.

In addition, if a fire system is temporarily unavailable, or if none has yet been installed fire watch can be a huge help. 

Hence, a fire watch serves as a temporary fix to monitor a building or location for potential fire hazards before the fire systems can be repaired or replaced.

Types of Fire Watch

There are different types of fire watch security services, each one depending on when is a fire watch required and on specific circumstances and hazards involved. The three primary types of fire watch services include:

Permanent Fire Watch

A permanent fire watch involves having trained professionals continuously monitoring the building for any signs of fire and alerting occupants and the fire department if necessary.

Buildings, construction sites, or spaces that need a higher level of protection require a permanent fire watch with a 24/7 fire watch guard.

Especially when the fire alarm system or sprinkler system is either inoperative or undergoing maintenance or repair takes place these fire watch security guards are on the clock to supervise your assets, business, buildings, etc.

Temporary Fire Watch

Temporary fire watches prevent fires from starting during operations and detect and extinguish any fires that may occur. Unlike permanent fire watch, these professionals supervise your business and building entities for a limited time period – maybe for a few hours or a few days per the client’s need. Fire extinguishers and other fire-fighting equipment are provided to well-trained personnel monitoring hot work areas.

For example, temporary fire watches are sometimes used at construction sites or occasional events such as concerts etc.

This service might be short, but it will help you with quality surveillance preventing future fires.

Special Event Fire Watch

A fire watch for special events is a specific service appointed for different events or occasions only. They are appointed when there are crowds accumulated in public or private places such as concerts, festivals, etc.

Performing a special event fire watch ensures that fire safety regulations are followed and prevents fires from igniting or spreading.

During the event, trained fire watch guards monitor the area for potential fire hazards, such as overloaded electrical circuits or improperly stored flammable materials.

Furthermore, they make sure that exits are not blocked, and that fire-fighting equipment is readily accessible.

By having special event fire watch services, any accidental fire outbreak can be handled on the spot.

Duties and Responsibilities of a Fire Watch

Fire watch professional’s duty is to protect the building, residential or commercial places.

Moreover, a fire watch security guard is responsible for ensuring that the building and people are equipped with the means to put off any fire emergencies or are able to exit the area immediately.

Some of the duties of a fire watch guard include:

Monitoring Fire Alarms and Emergency Systems

It is the first and foremost duty of the fire watch security guard to examine the working of every fire safety system and get it repaired if found defective.

In addition, the fire watch should be familiar with the emergency system, how to sound an alarm in the case of a fire, and how to notify the authorities.

Conducting Regular Inspections

The fire watch is responsible for patrolling and inspecting every part of the building, construction sites, etc inside out to ensure its safety, especially in high-risk regions including any areas that are not occupied (attics, crawl spaces, storage rooms, closets, etc.).

They should keep a log sheet of those rounds noting the beginning and ending times of each individual round until the fire official says it can be halted.

For example, inspecting the entire work area to look for the potential release of flammable vapors or liquids before, during, and at the end of each shift. Patrolling in areas where “hot work” is being done constantly is another consideration for regular inspections.

Maintaining fire extinguishers, hydrants, fixed monitors, and hose carts, as well as conducting regular inspections, will help keep the workplace fire-free.

Communicating with Building Occupants

Firstly, fire watch personnel must be provided with an emergency notification system and a way to notify building occupants of an emergency. Effective communication can save lives and reduce panic effectively.

People might already be scared and in great confusion because of the spreading of fire. They are not in a position to hear jargon or technical terms. Firewatch must communicate the instructions in an easy, concise, and calm manner so that the occupants can understand and act accordingly.

For example, “Attention everyone. A fire has been detected in the building. Please remain calm and evacuate immediately using the nearest exit. We have trained personnel to assist you. We are doing everything we can to ensure your safety.”

Additionally, loudspeakers and other public addressing systems can greatly help communicate the message swiftly.

Coordinating with Fire Department and Building Management

A fire watch can help ensure a safe and efficient emergency response by providing timely, accurate information, assisting the fire department, and updating building management.

First of all, the fire watch should keep building management updated on any information they may need to make decisions about the building’s safety and operations.

Fire watchers are required to immediately notify the fire department and building management when a fire is detected. They should provide information about where and how big the fire is, the number of people in the building and any hazardous materials that may be present.

By doing so, they will be able to initiate their emergency response procedures and ensure that the fire department is on its way.

There are several ways in which the fire watch can assist the fire department. Access to the building, directions to the fire location, and information about the building’s layout and safety systems are all part of this effort.

Qualifications and Training of a Fire Watch

Though bravery is an important trait to be a fire watch guard, fire guard training is mandatory for an individual to serve as a fire watch professional.

  1. Certifications and Licensing

To become a fire watch security guard an individual must at least possess a GED certificate or a high school diploma. Some employers may require Fire watchers to hold certifications or licenses such as:

  1. Fire Watch Training Certification: A fire safety certification is provided by many training organizations and verifies that the person has received adequate fire safety training.
  2. OSHA 10-Hour General Industry Certification: It covers fire safety, general health hazards, and other health hazards that workers might encounter on the job.
  3. OSHA 30-Hour General Industry Certification: During this comprehensive training program, supervisors and managers learn how to create a safe and healthy work environment for their employees
  4. State-specific Fire Watch licensing: In some states, Fire Watch personnel must hold a state-specific license to work in the fire safety industry.
  1. Training and Education Requirements

Fire watch positions typically require a high school diploma or equivalent. There are, however, some employers who may require additional training or education, such as:

  1. Fire Safety Training Course: Many employers offer employees on-the-job training about fire safety procedures and equipment usage.
  2. Emergency Response Training: First aid and CPR training may be required for some Fire Watch personnel.
  3. Fire Safety Certifications: Some employers may require or prefer Fire Watch personnel to have fire safety certifications.
  1. Physical and Mental Requirements

An individual working on fire watch must be physically and mentally capable of carrying out their duties, which may include:

  1. Lift Heavy Objects: Personnel working with fire extinguishers and other heavy equipment may have to lift heavy objects
  2. Good Hearing and Visibility: The ability to see and hear well is essential to detecting potential fire hazards and responding to emergencies.
  3. Handle Emergency: Fire watch personnel are frequently exposed to high-stress situations when they respond to emergencies.
  4. Good Communication Skills: During emergencies, fire watch personnel must communicate effectively with other team members and emergency responders.

Hence, a fire watch must comply with all fire watch rules.

Who Needs Fire Watch Services

Building Owners and Managers of Commercial

Building owners and managers of commercial properties desperately need fire watch services to make their buildings comply with fire safety regulations. Defected fire alarms or malfunctioning sprinkler systems, or renovations, repairs, or maintenance of the building, may necessitate fire watch services.

As an example, if the fire alarm system of a building is being replaced or upgraded, a fire watch service may be required to ensure the occupants’ safety.

Property Managers of Multi-tenant Buildings

Multi-tenant building managers are legally responsible for ensuring tenants’ safety and security. A Fire Watch service may be required if the fire safety systems need maintenance or repair or if there are any fire safety issues.

For example, it may be necessary to hire Fire Watch services if a building’s sprinkler system is being repaired, so the building remains safe until the sprinkler system is repaired.

Event Organizers and Planners

Organizers and planners are responsible for the safety of their attendees. An event may require fire watch services at a venue with inadequate or malfunctioning fire safety systems.

For example, fire watch services may be needed during outdoor festivals held in areas without adequate fire suppression systems to prevent fires and respond quickly to fire emergencies.

Construction and Demolition Sites

Due to the presence of flammable materials and heavy machinery, construction and demolition sites are more likely to experience fires. At such places, there is no substitute for fire watch services to prevent fires and ensure that any fires are detected and extinguished quickly.

For example, if a construction site is using welding equipment, Fire Watch services may be required to monitor the area and prevent sparks or flames from igniting nearby materials.

Businesses That Operate in Buildings With a History of Fire Code Violations

Businesses located in buildings with a history of fire code violations are more likely to suffer a fire and must take extra precautions to ensure their employee’s and customers’ safety. In order to operate safely, businesses rely on fire watch services to detect and mitigate fire hazards. 

For example, a restaurant located in a building where fire code violations have previously been reported may require fire watch services to monitor the kitchen and ensure that all safety protocols are followed.

Businesses That Operate in Buildings With Fire Suppression Systems Under Repair or Maintenance

Fire suppression systems that are under repair or maintenance put businesses at higher risk for fires. Businesses must take extra precautions to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. The fire watch service is needed to detect and respond to fires during the repair or maintenance of the fire suppression system, ensuring the building’s safety and security.

For example, fire watch services are needed to monitor a hospital’s fire suppression system during maintenance, ensuring that any fires are detected and extinguished quickly.

Companies that Offer Fire Watch Services

Several companies in the US manage to provide fire watch security services with the utmost integrity and value.

When choosing a company that offers Fire Watch Services, ensure that they have the necessary licensing, certifications, and insurance. A fire watch company must also be able to provide a rapid response in case of an emergency fire.

Fire Watch Services providers should also understand local fire safety regulations and be able to offer customized solutions that meet each client’s specific needs.

It’s worth mentioning here that with Professional Security Guard Inc’s expert services, you can get 24/7 or temporary services. You can ensure the safety of your residence, business, events, construction sites, facilities, and institutions. 

Fire Protection Services Companies

Fire Protection Services Companies specialize in providing fire safety services and have experienced professionals who are trained to monitor buildings for potential fire hazards.

Additionally, they offer fire alarm installation, maintenance, and repair of sprinklers, fire extinguishers, and fire sprinkler systems.

Companies like these are licensed and insured to provide fire safety services to businesses and commercial properties.

Some of the companies in the USA provide quality and custom fire watch services as below:

  1. Professional Security Guard Inc
  2. Adec Marine Limited
  3. API Group Inc
  4. EMCOR Group Inc
  5. J.F. Ahern Co
  6. Sentinel Safety & Security Group LLC

Security Services Companies

Fire watch services are also offered by security services companies as part of their comprehensive security solutions. Their trained personnel can monitor buildings for potential fire hazards and respond quickly in case of an emergency.

Businesses, events, construction sites, and other places with a concern for fire safety can hire these companies to provide fire watch services. Some of the best US security services companies are given below.

  1. Professional Security Guard, Inc
  2. Siteowl
  3. The Geo Group
  4. Hacknotice
  5. Grayshift
  6. Lockmasters

Final Thought

In conclusion, the above article answered the question “What is a fire watch” in great detail. Now you’re completely aware of the fire watch guard services and of their utmost importance. 

A well-organized fire watch is surely a vital service that keeps a close eye on structures during risky activities or while fire protection impairments are corrected.

Due to the unpredictable nature of fires, building owners and managers should take proactive measures to ensure that their properties are fire-safe. As part of this process, regular fire safety inspections ought to be carried out, fire safety systems should be installed and maintained, employees should be trained on fire safety, and a proper fire watch should be in place when required.


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