The Life of a Gate Guard . . .

Our friend Barbara Spade, who’s a Ranger at Colorado River Thousand Trails, sent me a list of questions about Gate Guarding.

And this made me realize that we’ve added a lot of new readers since I last talked about the job in any detail, so I thought I’d answer her questions here for everyone.

So first, some background.

Oil and drilling companies pay people to sit at the entrance (the gate) to their work areas. This can be a drilling site, like where we are now, or a frack job, a workover rig, a coil tubing job, or a completion. It might even be a production area with a lot of big storage tanks where tankers come to pick up the crude and take it to the refinery.

We don’t work directly for the oil companies, but for a contractor who deals with them. There are 15-20 gate guard companies, including the one we work for, Gate Guard Services.

We’ve worked for them for 5 years, 3 or 4 months a year, and always for the same supervisor, Jamie Hime. The first two years we were in the Whitsett/Pleasanton area about 60 miles south of San Antonio, and the last three years we’ve been in the east Texas area, either near Bryan/College Station, or up near Carthage.

We like up here much better. There’s real trees and grass.

The gate guard companies like and use RV’ers because we bring our own housing with us. They supply us with ‘full hookups’ so for us it’s just like we’re at an RV park.

As far as pay, this year we’re making $125 a day, the same as we made our first year in 2012. The other 3 years we made $150 a day.

Now as far as Barbara’s questions, which are in bold type.

What is the canopy for?  Chairs?

One of us is always outside on this gate, 24/7 so the canopy gives us shade and keeps us dry in the rain. I just realized I haven’t taken a photo of this gate, so here’s one from our very first gate 5 years ago.

GG 06

I assumed that there was like an office trailer where you work and it would be something like our gate shack here.

All of our gates have been like this one, with us sitting outside. We have alarms that tell us when a vehicle is entering or leaving, so on some not as busy gates the guards stay in their rigs and then come out when a vehicle approaches. We’ve never had one this slow.

There are some gates where you work out of a trailer or guard shack. Which means you have to park your RV at a regular RV park.

You check in delivery trucks?

We check in and out  every vehicle. It could be a semi bringing in diesel for the rig’s big generators, a flatbed bringing in equipment, a worker coming on shift, or a salesperson.

We get the person’s name, company, tag number and the time they came in.  When they leave we just note the time. We have been on gates where the person had to actually sign in and out. These are a pain.

Is there an actual gate like we are supposed to have here or do you just keep a log of who comes in and goes out?

Yes. Sometimes there is an actual gate, like there is here. But it always stays open. In some cases there’s no actual gate, but just a cattle guard. We have both gates and cattle guards here.

I assume it is a 24 hr. per day job so one of you has to be working.

This is a 24 hour gate so one of us is always out here, although we have been on 16-18 hour gates. The pay is the same.

Jan is the AM person and you are the PM person?

Some couples do work 12 hr. shifts, but Jan and I split it up. She works from 7am to 1pm. Then I work from 1pm to 6pm. Jan then works from 6pm to 11pm, and then I work from 11pm to 7am. Strange, but it works for us.

There are no hookups so you have a generator running all the time? Water comes from a tank on wheels and there is a permanent honey wagon?

Gate Guard Services furnishes us two support trailers as shown here.

Blue Moon Gate Support Trailers

The closest one, the big green one, is a septic tank system on a trailer. It is pumped out as needed, which is not often. We’ve only had to have ours pumped out once in 5 years.

The second trailer holds a 11.5kw diesel generator, a 250 gallon diesel tank, and a 500 gallon water tank, The generator runs 24/7, only being shut down every two weeks for an oil and filter change. The diesel tank and the water tank are refilled at the same time.

What about cell and internet reception?  TV? 

This is the same as when we’re at Colorado River. We have a Winegard Dome for DirecTV and a Verizion Aircard for Internet.

If you need groceries one works the gate while the other shops?

I usually do the shopping once a week. Right now it’s a 30 minute drive into Bryan/College Station.

What if one of you fell and broke your leg?

Well, hopefully they wouldn’t just shoot us. In a emergency, we would tell the Company Man what had happen and head to the hospital, or wait for the ambulance. I would also let Jamie know what had happened.

Could you both leave to go to the hospital?

Yes. Logging vehicles in and out is not a life and death situation. Even in normal operation we occasionally miss someone who comes through while we’re taking a bathroom break. Some drivers will wait for you to reappear. Some won’t.

A funny thing about logging vehicles is that the logs are almost never used. By any body for any reason. Our first year, following a Marathon drill rig, I had to turn in the logs every night at the office. But not since then.

We still have logs from 4 years ago. I think twice someone has wanted to look at the logs to see if something was really delivered. But that’s it.

Early on, I ask a Company Man (the big boss) what the logs were really for, since nothing was ever done with them. He smiled and said it’s so if something bad happens, we know how many bodies to look for.

When I noted that we were parked only about 200 feet from the drill rig, and that if the rig went up, we, and the logs, probably would too, he smiled again and said, “Well, it’s not a perfect system.”


Thought for the Day:

I am free of all prejudices. I hate everyone equally. – W.C. Fields

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20 Responses to The Life of a Gate Guard . . .

  1. Judy Mott says:

    Greg, this about sums up gate guarding in a nutshell! Here are a few thoughts from the gates we have been on during the past 3 years since, as we know, every gate is different – even though we work for the same gate guard company and have the same service tech – as we prepare to leave our gate tomorrow at 1 p.m., since the new energy company has decided they do not need a gate guard, and we had already planned for R&R during September and October. We have always turned our logs into our service tech – either once a month or, as on this gate, when we leave tomorrow. This site has an electronic gate that we leave open during the day and close at night, and we have a clicker to operate it. We also have to have truckers sign in, and we keep a separate sheet to show in and out times, and only show an out time on the log when they leave for the day. Fortunately, this gate is very slow, but we do not feel guilty, as we have paid our dues in the past on very heavy gates. We have also been on sites that we had to physically open and close the gate for every vehicle. Surveillance equipment has been put in on this site and, after we leave, the truckers will have to stop, get out of their trucks, and enter a code to open and close the gate as they come in and as they leave. We have noticed that there is a 30-second delay for the gate to close after a truck passes, so any number of trucks could follow them in if they wanted to. We will see how long this works, and I do not think the property owners, who said they would always have a gate guard, are going to like it! Greg, it is interesting that you do the shopping! Dick has only left the site 1 time in over 2 months, and I drive the 20 miles to shop every couple weeks. Fortunately, we have a washer/dryer on board, so I do not have to visit a laundromat. Also, fortunately, we have a small grocery with a meat counter and deli only 5 miles from us and a dollar store for small things in-between Walmart runs. Dick also is the primary cook, and I assist and clean up. The hours you and Jan work are almost identical to the hours that Dick and I work. We also prefer sites in East Texas with trees, and hope to never have to return to South Texas, which is a personal preference. Who knows what the future will bring, but we hope to gate guard for a few months out of the year, as well. It’s a great way to supplement our retirement income to cover additional expenses and travel. I hope you do not mind my sharing these thoughts, which will hopefully give another perspective to gate guarding. Have fun on your gate, and see y’all in a few months!

  2. Melinda Thomas says:

    Thank you Greg, that was very informative and thank you Barbara for asking. I was thinking I would ask as well, but Barbara beat me to it!

  3. Carol Burt says:

    Greg,
    I have two questions – Can that rolling septic tank back flow like normal sewers can without backflow protection? I see a hose going in at the top, which kinda’ makes sense….but still, I wonder could it back flow through your black tank and up into your house?
    My other question…is the Ginny loud? Seems awfully close to y’all?

  4. Judy says:

    It’s interesting and thank you for sharing. It’s something to think about.

  5. John says:

    $125 per day is that per person?

    • gregwhite says:

      John,

      That’s $125 per day, period. The last three years it was $150, but with the downturn in the oil market, everyone’s making less.

      But it’s $1750 every two weeks for writing down names on a sheet of paper.

      If you look at it another way, you would have to be making almost $22 an hour to make the same amount of money in the same length of time if you were working a regular job.

      Greg

  6. Phyllis East says:

    We worked for GGS in 2013 and 2014.  Thinking about doing a few months next year.   We did not work 2015 or 2016 due to there being less jobs and we realize many people depend on that income.  In 2013 we worked 2 months and 2o14 3 1/2 months.  Thinking 2 1/2 months would be our limit.

    In the beginning the supervisor with Len and then Jamie.  We found working for GGS a pleasure.  In 2013, while working in Hunstville, hubby ended up being admitted to the hospital for 5 days with a blood clot in his leg.  They found someone to come in for those days so I could go to the hospital and get some sleep too.  Very accommodating.

  7. Marie says:

    What company did you work for? Was it Guard 1?

    • gregwhite says:

      Marie,

      No.

      We worked for Gate Guard Services from 2012 to 2016 for 3 or 4 months a year, both in south Texas and east Texas.

      Then we worked for Sitewatch in 2016 and 2017 down in south Texas.

      Hope this helps.

      Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate the comment.

      Greg

  8. Barb says:

    Can singles work gate guard? How does that work, I mean, I can do like 16 hr days, but gotta sleep at some point. Is there certification and training.

    • gregwhite says:

      Barb,

      Yes, singles can work as gate guards, but usually only on a 12 hour gate. And as you can imagine these are at a premium.

      However, more and more companies, like SiteWatch where we worked last, are using guard shacks on 12 shifts. This means you park your RV at a nearby park and drive to the gate to work. Perfect for a single.

      In Texas you are required to have a Level II Unarmed Security Guard license which the company will guide you through obtaining.

      Let me know if you need any more info.

      Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate the comment.

      Greg

  9. YSRAELHERNANDEZ says:

    Did you all need to purchase a 30 or 50 amp extension cord or did they furnish it themselves.

    • gregwhite says:

      Hi,

      We’ve never needed one. They just park the generator trailer close enough to the RV.

      Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate the comment.

      Greg

  10. YSRAELHERNANDEZ says:

    Does the generator noise hamper your sleep?

    • gregwhite says:

      No, the generator is still far enough away that we don’t really hear it.

      Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate the comment.

      Greg

  11. YSRAELHERNANDEZ says:

    Thank-you mr.white

  12. What are the other requirements to do this paper work wise

    • gregwhite says:

      Randy,

      Besides the paperwork for your Security Guard License, and your bank direct deposit info, that’s about it. You may have to fill out personal data form just so they know who you are, and emergency contacts, etc., but that depends on the company.

      Let me know if you need more info.

      Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate the comment.

      Greg

  13. S R Barnett says:

    Very interesting reading. We are gate guarding close to Laredo, Tx at the present. We would like to get closer to home, which is East Texas which you mentioned close to Bryan/College station, where can I get information about that area. Also, any advice on how to keep field mice out of RV. Thanks

    • gregwhite says:

      Hi,

      When we were in East Texas we were with Gate Guard Services, 2014-2016. But I think all the companies have gates up that way. You just have to call around. We certainly liked east Texas better than south Texas.

      As far as the mice go, two cats usually took care of that problem.

      Keep in touch.

      Greg

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