FAQ - Gate Guarding in Texas
Since becoming gate guards we have received quite a few inquiries about the job and how to get one. Donna and I are pleased to help in any way we can. This FAQ gives answers to the most asked questions we have received as well as contact information for gate guarding companies we have come across. We hope this is helpful to you and would appreciate a comment or email to let us know how you are doing.
Top 10 Questions:
1. How do you get mail?
You could have your mailed forwarded to you (by someone), c/o General Delivery at the closest post office. Any important mail I get, my daughter scans it and sends me a pdf file via email or she uploads the scanned docs to Google Documents. All my bill paying is done with online banking and paperless billing.
2. Does the paycheck come in both names, or just one, and can you choose whose name?
It depends on the company. Most will give you a choice. You can set it up any way you want. We have all checks going to my wife since I am on social security and don’t want the income.
3. How do you dispose of garbage?
There will be a dumpster close by if you are actually ON the rig site or your area coordinator will gladly take it when he comes to visit weekly or take it with you to a dumpster when you go shopping. Our ranch manager takes ours every morning, as needed, when he comes thru.
4. Do dangerous situations ever occur? Like someone wants in that shouldn't go in?
They can happen. You should contact the Company Man to handle anyone who wants in but is not allowed. This is not a common occurrence. Whether you are on a rig site or at the main gate to several rig sites, you are within the gate and fence confines. A lot of gate guarding is done in the Valley close to the Rio Grande river so you can occasionally have an ‘illegal’ or two wandering through looking for food and water. They won’t come into your compound or thru the gate on a normal basis. Best thing to do is grab your cell phone and call the Border Patrol (their number is supplied to you by the company your work for). BP will be there ASAP and if the illegal sees you calling on your phone he/they will usually just hightail it on out of there.
5. Required or allowed to have a gun?
When you get your security guard license it is a non-commissioned security officer license. That means that you are not allowed to carry or use a weapon in the course of your duties. It does not mean that you cannot have a weapon, inside your rig, for personal protection. We have one. Remember that the areas you will be working have snakes and other animals that might require the gun.
6. What do you personally do about health insurance?
That’s a sad subject and many factors are involved. Everyone has to deal with that based on their personal situation. Donna has a private policy and I will have medicare soon. This is not something we can really help with.
7. How much control does a gatekeeper have over the amount of weeks per year working? Like how do you work? When you work say six months in a row is it permissible to leave for a period of time, say a week or so, if you let them know up front?
Absolutely. Remember, you are in control and they will love to have you as long as they can. You are a contractor and they will work with you on your terms and hope that you will come back soon. As a contractor you can work or not work at your discretion. Also, the company you work for can release you at any time with no notice or reason given.
8. Have there ever been families of 3 adults that would take the test and then they could interchange as needed. As long as 2 are there?
I have no direct experience with this situation but I don’t see why not, as long as there is only one RV in the camp. They pay for 24 hours of service so I don’t see where 3 people would be a problem. Each will have to take the test, which is open book and each person has to pay the State fee for the license.
9. Can you tell us what the typical assignment is like?
The job of a gate guard at a drilling location is to log people in and out of the location. You will take their name, company name, license plate number and where on the area of the site where they are going. Logging the time they come in and go out gives you a pretty good idea how many vehicles are on the property at any given time. You are not licensed to do anything but "observe and report." If anything is out of the ordinary, your responsibility is to report it to the appropriate parties. This could be the company man, border patrol or local law enforcement. It’s so easy a caveman could do it…LOL
The job is easy. Some companies will supply the ‘flood lights’ for the nighttime front gate and some require you to provide them (cheap purchase at Harbor Freight & others), and they provide ‘safety vest’ which is an OSHA requirement as well as the oil company’s’.
10. Do you both need to be there all the time?
Only one person is required to be there at any given time. You cannot both be gone at the same time and leave the gate unguarded. Wife and I worked a 12/12 hr. shift from midnight to noon (Donna) then noon to midnight. Tom) This way we both have a busy time and a down time. There is plenty of time for sleep or going to get groceries or Laundromat or whatever, while the other one is working the gate. You make your own schedule.
Other questions we have been asked:
1. I read parts of your blog and looked at your pics. That RV that is in the pic, that is like a big bus, is that the RV they give you or is that yours?
The motor home in the picture is ours. All of the people we know doing this have their own rigs-travel trailers, 5ers, Class A. Well, I have never seen an ad where they provide the RV. Depending on the company they pay $125-150 per day and give you full hookups (electric, water, external sewer tank).
2. What are the typical lengths of time working?
Oilfield drilling is 24/7/365. The new oil and gas reserves they discovered in the valley will keep rigs working for 20-30 more years. There is no typical length of working…you work for as long or as little as you want. As a contractor you don't even have to give them notice, although I would never just up and leave. We wait until there is a replacement but no 2 week notice is necessary.
3. I also read that you covered for someone that needed to be away, both of them for a day.
If there are more than one guard on a location, we voluntarily switch and relieve each other occasionally so hubby and wife can together somewhere if needed. We did have an emergency and had to leave for about 6 hours and thankfully we had another couple who were willing to cover for us. Also, if an emergency comes up and you need some time off they have ‘roamers’ that will come and take your site while you are gone or they will stay there until they can replace the couple (i.e. you leave and don’t intend on coming back).
4. Holidays are treated the same as other days of the week? Or can you get away for a day at Christmas?
With enough notice your GG company may find someone to relieve you for a holiday. Holidays are just another day in the oilfield and the gate must be covered.
5. How often do you get paid?
This depends on the company. Some pay every 2 weeks and some pay once per month.
6. What is the typical traffic during the night?
Traffic thru the gate is very light at night unless there is a frac’ing (shale fracturing) operation going on. When the rig has finished drilling the well to the desired depth it will move out to a new location. A company will come in and Frac the hole and gets real busy day and night at that time. Frac'ing lasts about a week usually.
7. Do you have to sit outside during the main hours? Just curious why during such horrific heat you couldn't be inside and come out when someone comes.
No, you are not required to sit outside all the time. You will have signal devices that signal you (on the inside) of traffic coming in or going out. When you get real, real busy, it’s just easier to stay outside rather than going in and out, in and out, of the rig. We have pressure sensor hoses on the ground that ding us.
8. If we got one of the companies interested in us do you think it would be worth our while to make a trip down to Texas and see what's what?
Once you talk to any of these companies, they could ask you start RIGHT NOW. They need a supply of gatekeepers on hand since there are so many drilling rigs working and gatekeepers sometimes need a break or just want some time off.
9. The ad I read indicated that there were less than all year jobs, but it wasn't specific.
This question is kind of confusing. Once a rig is done they move it to a new location in the area. You could follow the rig around and be working very quickly again. In fact, you could actually be moved to the new site while they are putting the rig back together to drill again. If you prefer you can take a month or two off. If you are off, enjoy the few days off and clean your rig. You are in control of your work schedule.
They usually don’t care but it’s always best to have it confirmed before accepting the location (your gate guard company can check this out). If you have a pet that likes the outdoors, keep him/her on a leash and don’t allow them to get into the traffic road as there are too many trucks, mostly ALL big ones.
11. Do they run out of work for gatekeepers during the winter months? Just guessing it's easier to get people to work winter months than summer months.
NO WAY….seasons and holidays don’t exist in the oilfield.
12. When they close down a site is that permanent or do the wells need to "rest" and they come back to them?
The big drilling rig only drills to a certain depth and they stop. Then they pour cement in the hole and a work-over rig comes later (after Frac’ing is done) to drill thru the cement and bring the well into production. The rig is usually sent to another location. If the drilling company likes you, they just take you along.
13. Computer hook up and cable or satellite TV?
Internet access: We use Verizon MiFi 2200 which is secured WiFi. They don’t provide this. Also, satellite is best because not many standard channels are available for the rig’s antenna.
14. How long does this training and license stuff take?
Training? LOL…none required. The license you will get is a Texas Non-commissioned Security Guard permit, good for two years (then you can renew it). They usually give you a manual to read thru and then take an open book test. Figure on 2-4 hours total at their office, or wherever. We got our license when we were with Timekeepers, Inc. so didn’t have to redo.
15. Do they usually get you a gate pretty quickly?
Usually, but talk to them before you drive to them. Try and time it where you can get your license and paperwork out of the way and then go to rig site within a day or two.
16. Is there much walking/standing?
You only have to walk 15 ft from your door or chair (if outside) to the vehicle. Hand them the clipboard and have them sign in. Normally you fill out the License plate number and enter the time in or out and they fill out the rest. It is minimal work. I have 2 artificial knees and have no problems.
17. Are these shorter term assignments or long term?
Terms are what you want them to be. If you only want 4 weeks, 12 months, or anything in between, it’s your choice…just give the GG company a general idea of how long you plan to work then go from there. We will always try to give them enough time to replace us, but remember, they won't replace you until you are ready to leave.
18. How do we get in touch with the hiring companies?
You call email some but mostly you just call them and tell them you are interested. You can even request what area you most desire but you should tell them you are willing to take anything available OR tell them when YOU will be available and take what they give you. (see list below)
19. How long does it take to get an assignment?
You will go on an active list and as soon as a position comes available they will call you and offer it to you. This last job we just did was a “Can you be here tomorrow?” job. Talk to the GG company and get an idea of the scope of the location. Ask about number of rigs, production facilities, if applicable. This will tell you how busy you will be. There is more traffic on a location that has three active rigs than a location with only one.
Gate Guarding companies in Texas
*Always ask what they are providing onsite and what You have to provide, if anything.
*Call all the companies, take notes, and go for the best scenario/deal.
Gate GuardServices, L.P .
4646 Corona Dr. Suite 163
Corpus Christi, TX, 78411
Doug Farrell, President
LOMA Rentals, LLC
M R Ranch something or another out of Carrizo Springs
John @KC Services
Darold @Pro Gate
Dole @Oil Field Support Services
Phone: Kitty @ 830-816-5059
or John @956-821-5815
114 Oak Park Dr. Boerne, TX.
What paperwork do I need to have or complete:
1. Independent Contractor Agreement
2. W-9 for taxes
3. Agreement for Workers’ Compensation
4. Application cards (3) for fingerprints and Registration Application (provided by employer)
5. Level II Security Officer Exam for the Texas Dept. of Public Security Bureau (taken right in employers office)
6. Passport size photo (for use with #4). These are easy to get in hundreds of places like pharmacies even.
**Information Courtesy of the Bertelsen’s: http://www.kitandjerry.com/
Other Blogs you may want to read, about RV-dreamers, doing gate guarding:
Adventures of John and Terry @ http://adventuresofjohnandterry.blogspot.com/
The Fork in the Road @ http://theforkintheroad.wordpress.com/
The McKnight's Luke and Inez Making Memories @ http://memorymaker11.com/blog/
Gate Guards David & Penny Wendel working with Timekeepers @ http://www.wanderingwendels.com/index.html