Fire watch guards, otherwise known as emergency medical service (EMS) are highly equipped and designed for quick response to emergencies such as fire, medical alarm, or carbon monoxide emergencies. Fire watch guards are usually tasked as an initial response in case of an emergency. These are usually used as a temporary arrangement by which the guard is charged with basic patrol to personally check and visually inspect the entire property for any present or possible fire hazards (real fires excluded). It also includes a medical response team to rush to the fire disaster area to attend any injured victims or patients.
Although fire watch guards are designed to provide basic security and safety, they may be hired more frequently as needed. On-site fire watch guards are firemen who are stationed at strategic points within the commercial facility or establishment. They are generally armed, but some are unarmed. However, all are trained and certified in CPR, first aid, smoke inhalation and rescue breathing, and so on. However, the frequency with which they need to be called depends on the size of the establishment.
On-site fire watch guards may include: emergency medical services, police, EMTs, firefighters, EMT supervisors, or other first aid professionals. They are usually available for several hours at a time. A typical shift schedule is three hours on a day, six hours off a day and three hours night. Some establishments may also hire temporary guard duty during special occasions such as school holidays. In most countries, on-site fire watch services are required by law to be professionally trained and equipped with proper equipment, clothing, and a fire protection system.
For some commercial establishments, the on-site guards may be employed by the local fire department. In such instances, the contract is usually for a fixed period of time, such as one month. The contract may be renewed if the number of watch security agents increases or the fire department needs more guards. However, the actual costs of hiring fire department personnel can be higher than the benefits received from having professional on-site watch security agents. These professionals are trained to administer basic first aid and are therefore more suited to addressing potential emergencies, but they cannot provide advanced medical treatment or life support.
Fire watch guards may be hired by large corporations, which employ a large number of employees who receive regular training and may be called upon for immediate assistance when an accident occurs at their premises. Large institutions, like hospitals and government facilities, are able to train their employees in basic first aid techniques, but may not have the available resources to call upon for fire watch security guard services. On-site fire watch guards trained by the fire department are more familiar with responding to distress calls. This is because the fire department has fire watch personnel available at all times. For smaller establishments, the on-site fire watch guards may be employed by the property owner, but will typically be contracted by the local fire department to provide added fire department protection on an ad hoc basis, in addition to serving as an additional on-site security personnel.
There are instances, where the benefits of having professional on-site security guards outweigh the benefits of hiring on-site security guards. In the case of small, limited-entry retail establishments, such as shops within specialty shops or privately owned restaurants, the benefits of hiring on-site fire watch guards far outweigh the costs of on-site security guards. In these cases, the establishment may be able to reduce its insurance rates by hiring professional guards. In addition, these guards may also be called upon to provide other services, such as helping customers who are trapped inside a burning building. In this case, the savings to the establishment may outweigh the costs of employing on-site security guards. The same is true for businesses that need to protect their employees in certain dangerous situations.