There are many reasons why a fire watch guard is necessary in a commercial building, whether it is occupied or vacant. Managing the risk of fire is a high priority in managing a building, from a safety point of view and also from a legal standpoint.
Any professional and reputable organisation will have comprehensive fire procedures for managing fire risk and emergency situations, but a key element of that is that things change, and a fire watch guard, who is often called a waking watch guard, acts as a critical safety measure in managing situations where the in-built system is bypassed in one of many potential situations, and therefore a greater risk of fire exists.
Typical fire risks in an organisation
Fire watch guards can be employed on a permanent or temporary basis according to your needs, and they are primarily in place to support the procedures you have implemented. But they can also provide key services where a particularly high risk of fire exists, or where an internal system is temporarily not functioning, such as a fire alarm system or water sprinkler system. The fire watch guard is therefore necessary to safeguard people and premises against fire, which could be caused by:
- Inappropriate storage – materials and liquids
- People smoking
- Lack of safety equipment
- Poor workmanship
- Poor safety procedures
The responsibilities of a fire watch guard
The key duties of a fire watch guard, therefore, are based around prevention and can be summarised as:
- Surveillance – Continuous patrols inside and outside the building, paying particular attention to high risk areas such as warehouse storage or where hot work is taking place, ie. welding or cutting and electrical work.
- Monitor safety controls – The fire watch guard is responsible for monitoring and maintaining fire safety equipment and procedures. So they should check periodically that fire extinguishers are in place and operational, fire exits are not blocked or locked and the fire alarm system and water sprinkler system is operational. Of course it is possible the fire watch guard has been deployed because these systems are not working and this is already known.
- Trigger emergency plan – Where a hazard has been identified and a fire situation has evolved, the fire watch guard must enact the emergency plan. The first stage of this is to raise the alarm, contact the fire services and contact the appropriate management of the organisation and premises.
- Evacuation support – Once the alarm is raised the building must be evacuated. The fire watch guard will be trained to calmly follow emergency procedures to evacuate the building, account for all personnel, assemble them in the correct place and ensure the building is empty.
- Documentation – Following the safe evacuation of the building the fire watch guard must maintain logs and record information about the incident, bearing in mind this could have occurred out of hours. This must be reported to management and can assist in training and health and safety improvement.
Of course all organisations and buildings are different, and a fire watch guard will face unique challenges in each of them, but these are the fundamental responsibilities expected of a fire watch guard and which can be applied to every type of building. For expert fire watch services using trained and accredited personnel, you can speak to First Response Group and we can discuss your requirements and how we can safeguard your business against the risk of fire in all circumstances.