A firewatch is a person assigned to observe ongoing hot work to identify and react to hazards. A Firewatch is necessary at any time where hot work is performed in locations where a fire greater than a minor one might develop, such as a construction site or oil rig. Before hot work begins, written permission, like a hot work permit, must be issued. Inspect the work area for any sources of fuel, such as trash, rags and flammable materials and liquids. This applies to lower decks or levels where sparks or slag could fall.
Some of the responsibilities of a Firewatch include:
- Having fire extinguishing equipment readily available
- Know how to sound an alarm in the event of a fire
- Monitor for fires in all exposed areas, including lower decks or levels
- Attempt to extinguish the fire only within the capacity of available equipment, if not sound the alarm
- Monitor hot work area for at least half an hour after hot work operations stop
The Firewatch cannot have any other duties while monitoring the hot work so they can concentrate on their task. Continuous surveillance must be maintained throughout the course of the hot work, including a 30-minute cool down period after hot work concludes.