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Job Site Security Q&A with John Rafferty

Job Site Security Q&A with John Rafferty

Design 2147 CEO Sisto Martello recently spoke with John Rafferty, President and CEO at WATCH GUARD 24/7, about the latest rules and regulations for job site security. Here are some of the important takeaways from the conversation.

Q. Why is security required on new buildings and major alterations sites in New York City, and what role does your firm play?

A. On new construction buildings and certain alterations, security guards/fire guards are required by New York City. We are there to ensure the safety of the site from theft and vandalism, but also to ensure that a fire does not occur. Utilizing fire guards can be important to prevent fires by having personnel conduct rounds and to oversee hot work that is being conducted on job sites.

Q. Many sites in Manhattan use a turnstile and a magnetic key pad to control site access. Why do contractors go to such extremes?

A.Access control is a major component of minimizing theft, as well as ensuring the safety and security of the site. Utilizing a turnstile with access control allows a flow of trades to enter the site expeditiously and ensures they are indeed authorized trades for that job. Being able to use access cards allows the contractor to deactivate an individual or an entire trade from accessing a site, which could be crucial to the safety and progress of a job.

Q. Theft has always been a problem on job sites. Does the use of full-time security deter that? How do you patrol a large building under construction? That sounds like a tough job for anyone.

A. On every job, you deal with external and, unfortunately, internal threats, which are nearly impossible to stop. What you try to do is deter people from some of these acts at your job sites. The best way to do this is by incorporating personnel and technology on your job site, such as putting cameras near where the trades are positioned, having the security guards do periodic rounds of the job site, and utilizing a guard tracking system. Having a security provider that provides the proper management and oversight with constant communication with the client is important, as construction projects are continuously developing. It’s important to try to be ahead of any issues that may arise.

Q. What types of reporting do you provide to the owners? I would guess it would be documenting incidents and unusual behavior?

A. Our company utilizes a system called Lighthouse, which allows our team to incorporate live reporting directly into the system, being able to upload photos and information that the client can see in real time. This is extremely important on a live construction site.

Q. John, you previously shared with me a project where one of your team members saw a spark near a trailer and reported it – this is an example of security going above and beyond what is required on a job site.

A. It’s important to have a team that understands what to look for and the urgency behind certain things like this, where a spark can turn into a fire and be catastrophic on a job site.

Q. How does security get incorporated into parking garages?

A. Sometimes you will see security incorporated into parking garages where there is a client base that goes out to clubs and bars and there is an element of possibly intoxicated customers who can cause ongoing issues for the parking attendants. Utilizing a security guard can sometimes assist in minimizing conflict between the parking attendant and the customer.

Q. Most of your management have law enforcement experience. Can you tell me a little bit about your time with the NYPD and how you started WATCH GUARD 24/7?

A. I was a lieutenant with the NYPD and after 13 years I retired due to injuries, but knew I still had a lot to give and decided to start a private investigation/security guard company in 2009. Approximately 12 years ago I moved away from the private investigation work as the security side of the business continued to grow, and moved my focus to security guard, concierge, and fire safety director services. We have now grown into one of the largest security companies here in New York by hiring not just retired law enforcement, but a mix of law enforcement and experts in the private sector.

Q. Can you tell us about the role of Fire and Life Safety Directors in existing buildings and job sites?

A. Fire safety directors are required in New York City for hotels, construction sites, high-rise office buildings, and locations with impaired fire safety systems. It’s crucial to have fire safety directors who are properly certified but can also communicate clearly, so when an emergency does happen, they are able to give the proper instructions to the staff, residents, or visitors of that property. An example would be having a fire in a hotel – it would be crucial for that fire safety director to calmly have everyone evacuate the property. On the other hand, if a false alarm goes off, the fire safety director can clearly communicate that it is a false alarm, and no further action is needed.

Q. What is the most important thing for people to know about job site security?

A. WATCH GUARD 24/7 has grown organically by providing quality service at affordable pricing. We always look to be honest with our clients when taking on new jobs, be proactive, and communicate regularly with our clients. We understand the importance of being our client’s security provider and do everything to make sure that we exceed expectations.

A breach in security can cause tremendous delays on a project but can also cost a tremendous amount of money to our clients. It is of the utmost importance that our team provides the level of service that is needed and expected at these job sites.

John Rafferty.