Thread: The Housewatch

  1. #1
    GBordas
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    Default The Housewatch

    I was curious, Does your firehouse have a housewatch? If so, what are the responsibilities of your housewatchman? Does he/she alert the house of incoming alarms?With all of the technology today with alerting, it seems that there may not be a need for this. I strongly disagree. I think that the role of the housewatchman is very important. Not just for announcing an alarm but also as a liasion between the firehouse and the public.

    What are your thoughts?

    [ 08-13-2001: Message edited by: GBordas ]

  2. #2
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    We still maintain a watch. We have gone over to a new staion alerting system with 800 mhz. radio system that was supposed to have allegedly eliminated watches. Now we have to be more alert than when we had a vocal alarm sytem (hardwired, non radio dispatch). We have many bugs in the new system and I think we'll have watches till at least the end of my career. It is tough in single engine houses: 4 people to cover 1900 hrs. until 0700 hrs. Even if we were fully automated and working right, lots of guys think we would have watches for the "walk-ins." What if all the companies in that house were gone when the walk-in beats on the door? In most cities he would go to a pay phone or pick up a phone at the entrance to the firehouse that is linked to 911 or, nowadays there's a good chance he had a cell phone anyway.

  3. #3
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    Our house watcher's duties were droped way back to closing the doors when the trucks leave before getting on himself. A house watch would leave us one man down on an already light number of FFs. And if you sleep through our house bells you are in a coma. As far as walk-ins we have 911 phones on all the station front doors.
    "What makes a person run into a building others are running out of?...Character."- Dennis Smith

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    We have a watch person at our Central House but they can still sleep and dont have to stay up all night. They are responsible for answering the phone and letting the trucks out through the night when calls come in. They are also assigned a to a company and go when their company goes then the second assigned watch person is supposed to take over. If you want to work out or whatever you have to find someone to cover for you.Our alarms will also wake the dead when they go off.

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    I belive that having station alerting is the way to go. The only real advantage to having someone sit watch all night is the occasional walk-in and sometimes a jump if the house across the street if on fire. It can be extremely hard to stay awake if you have had 25 runs during the day including a fire or two. If the one person on watch does fall asleep we do not have a back-up system to turn out the company. I don't belive that is the best way to do it. I really don't mind too much because I'm up most of the night running calls anyways.

  6. #6
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    FiremedicMike's Avatar
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    Fortunatly for us we have full-time 12-hour shift dispatchers working in our station. They cover what would be considered "watch duty", as well as answering our 911 and private lines, so it makes it really nice..

  7. #7
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    We don't have a housewatch except for the city's annual Labor Day parade, where we will have firefighters assigned to the housewatch detail at Station 2 (near the parade staging area) and at Headquarters (near the parade terminus). Most of the walk ins during these watches are for minor medicals and the call of nature.

    All of our alerting is done via tones over our 800MhZ system...we have had this method of alerting for over 5 years with no major problems.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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  8. #8
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    My Department still has a Housewatch. A member is assigned for the tour, with another member assigned as alternate. There are 2 companies in the house, thus 1-guy from each company. They are responsible for answering the house phones (not 911), straightening up, and most of all, answering the "door-bangers".

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