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Every firehouse around the City has a “housewatch.” Typically, the housewatch area is located strategically in the firehouse so that the FDNY member assigned to “housewatch duty” will be able to observe anyone who enters or leaves the firehouse. The company commander is responsible for scheduling housewatch duty and must assure that an FDNY member is assigned to housewatch at all times. The FDNY member assigned to housewatch must “remain at the housewatch desk at all times, except when necessary to observe conditions in front of the firehouse.” If relief is required, the member must notify the officer on duty. Housewatch duty is divided into eight 3-hour periods beginning at 9:00 a.m., and the officer on duty must properly supervise the member performing housewatch.
The member on housewatch receives and acknowledges all alarms, promptly sounds the internal alarm bell, informs the officer on duty and assists in preparation for the response. Members on housewatch duty must also maintain the Company Journal, in which all the activities of the firehouse, such as fire alarms and roll call, are recorded. The firefighter assigned to housewatch duty must record the names of all visitors and FDNY personnel entering and exiting the Firehouse, as well as any significant events of the day. Fire Department Regulations require the recording of those daily events – both mundane and significant – to be made in a red, hardcover book called, the “company journal.” Regulations require that “company journal entries shall be an accurate and complete daily record of all matters affecting the interests of the Department, or the administration of units and personnel assigned thereto.” Journal entries should include all fire runs, roll calls, inspections, injuries and the time any member on duty enters or leaves.
Members on housewatch must also: record “all matters which may affect the efficient response or operations of the unit at fires;” monitor conditions in apparatus quarters and protect the apparatus; and ensure the sidewalk (or “apron”) and fire zone in front of quarters are clear of obstructions. Members on housewatch are also required to answer all telephone calls promptly and properly and must prevent the “unnecessary and unauthorized use of the telephones.”
The member on housewatch also regulates the admission of visitors to the firehouse. According to regulations, “when civilian visitors enter quarters, the member on housewatch shall ascertain their names and nature of their business and then promptly notify the officer-on-duty.” Moreover, “members performing housewatch duty shall not permit visitors beyond the housewatch desk without permission of the officer-on-duty.”