11:30 PM: I stare at the clock as I have for the past six nights, hoping for it to go backwards. It stares back at me, blinking with each second, unrelenting, unforgiving. In just a half an hour, I will be ripped from the comfort of home and exposed to the bleak, unforgiving duty that this world has chosen for me. I think to myself not another night, not me, not tonight. Then, as if my thoughts of despair have been heard, I am comforted, as a child comforted by a parent. I am embraced by an overwhelming sense of duty. It swells my heart in my chest, and I rise to action. I grab my flashlight, my high visibility vest, and head to the door. I am the line in the sand, the last line of defense. I am the hero that this construction site deserves, I am the hero this city needs. I am….THE NIGHT WATCHMAN.
If only it was this exciting, right? But let’s face it guys, there are jobs in this industry that don’t get the headlines and don’t regularly make the news. Today, I am speaking about those unsung heroes that brave the boredom and monotony and sit, stand, or walk post to make sure that other’s assets remain safe. Today, I’m speaking about what is known in the industry as Firewatch Services.
These services differ slightly than regular guard services in that they are usually temporary, and are more of an observational post, not so much a physical security presence. It’s putting a human brain behind a camera, and becoming an early warning notification system that can act as well. But it is not glamorous, and if it is ever exciting, then something probably went very wrong.
I wanted to write this blog today, because even though there are alot of hot button topics out there, and a lot of security assignments that are more exciting and more interesting, I feel that assignments such as fire watch duty are a crucible by which discipline is either developed, or squandered.
When I teach Close Protection to individuals, I usually begin my class by telling the students to go and stand in the corner of the room, and that I will be back sometime between ten and twelve hours, and they must be ready to spring into action. While this is meant as a joke to explain how monotonous the job can be, it is accurate. This is why a job such as firewatch is crucial for new security employees, and I will always recommend that these assignments be given to the newest employees. It has nothing to do with seniority or experience, it has to do with instilling the mental discipline into someone to work long and uneventful hours, with no praise or recognition. Give me someone that does firewatch duty well, and stays alert throughout the shift, and I can make them into one of the best at the more exciting stuff.
It is the long hours in the cold, exposed to the elements, or fighting the urge to sleep while sitting in a marked car without supervision that forges the ability to do the same thing when protecting not just assets or property, but lives as well.
Let’s take a look at the importance of such a job. When done well, a firewatch post can save millions in loss or damages related to fire, flood, and theft from a property or construction site. Alarms are good, but only act to initiate a response, and a lot can happen during a standard response time. Cameras are also good, but typically do not deter or prevent, however they record evidence to be used at a later date, after the damage is already done. A firewatch post is both a proactive and reactive force that can deter, delay, or defeat a multitude of threats, both malicious and accidental in nature. Finally, living in a climate of security that is currently dealing with active shooters, hybrid targeted violence, etc… simply having a security individual sitting post and watching a property can create an appearance of a hardened target, and may very well be the one thing that makes an individual choose another location instead of yours.
Here’s to those that do this on a daily (more likely nightly) basis- keep up the good work.
If you’re one of those individuals and are reading this, let me be the first to say thanks, and assure you that if you do this job well, it won’t go unnoticed. I’ve been there, and I know what you’re going through, and that if you keep a positive attitude and STAY AWAKE, you’ll be just fine. Now get off your phone, and stay alert!!
For more information and blogs visit www.opssecuritygroup.com. Take care, stay safe and thanks for reading.