Fire watch services are usually only used as a contingency plan in case of an emergency. These guards are mainly used as a temporary agreement by which the guard is charged with patrol to personally check and inspected the premises for any potential or existing fire hazards (in case of actual fires). The most important feature of a fire watch service is that it can only be activated when there is actually a fire, which means that the guard has to personally check for any sign of fire. Other than this, they also help other personnel such as the firefighters and EMTs in terms of early alerts and more advanced fire fighting techniques. For these reasons, most countries require their guards to undergo basic fire safety training and obtain certifications before they can legally carry out fire watch functions.
Usually the duty of these guards is limited to checking the establishment for possible fires and providing immediate first aid until help arrives. Fire watch services are widely used by warehouses and factories where combustible materials are kept, such as paper products, rubber goods, wood pulp and other similar products. This ensures that any accident that does not end up causing physical damage to the premises does not have the chance to spread to the adjoining areas. Some countries even provide for the responsibility of deploying military guards in cases where national fire protection services fail to respond quickly enough. Fire watch services are also often commissioned by the police in major disaster areas such as earthquakes or floods, wherein the help of fire department personnel may not be readily available.
There are many benefits that can come from the implementation of fire watch services. These include protecting lives and properties of people and buildings and preventing the spread of fires. However, due to the high costs involved in creating and maintaining these types of patrols, fire departments often prefer to deploy regular patrols, which are more cost-effective and easier to create. Regular patrols can also be called for in case of emergencies when public safety comes at a higher risk.