Fire marshals, or fire wardens as they are sometimes called, are a designated person who is responsible with the ongoing management of fire safety in the workplace and normally have a structure or frame work to follow within the organisation to help prevent fires.
Organisations often have more than one fire warden, especially if it’s a large organisation.
Thankfully, fires only happen on occasion but when they do, they can be catastrophic which is why having a fire safety procedure in place is so important and the role of a Fire warden is vital in any business.
Fire wardens play a key role in preparing for a fire in the case of a fire emergency, hopefully you’ll never have to face one but if you do a fire warden will help to keep employers and visitors safe during an evacuation.
Fire Wardens roles and responsibilities fall broadly into 2 categories:
- Proactive day to day duties that may include
- Reactive emergency duties
Proactive and day to day duties of a Fire Warden
While a workplace fire warden must not put themselves at risk while carrying out their duties, they are essentially there to carry out many elements of a fire risk assessment, to increase the chances of preventing a fire in the first place.
Tasks will vary from organisation to organisation, depending on the number of employees you have, the size and contents of the building and so on but, as an example, Fire Warden duties in the work place might include:
- All fire exits and routes must remain free from obstruction and available at all times. It is crucial that final exits are opened to check they are not blocked from the outside.
- Break glass call points are visible and have a break glass point sign and emergency fire action notice adjacent to them.
- Ensuring Fire extinguishers are in their correct place, serviced, signed and stowed above floor level.
- General house-keeping is in good order i.e paper storage and waste controlled. No room with a fixed source of ignition or heat is to be used for the storage of combustible materials.
- Smoking areas are controlled i.e kept clean regularly and smoking receptacles emptied on a regular basis.
- Control of flammable liquids and hazardous materials.
- Electrical safety checks / pat testing.
- Rubbish and external security monitored.
- Emergency lighting tested monthly.
- Hot works management / issuing hot works permits and control of contractors.
- Fire alarm checks tested weekly.
- Staff fire inductions.
- Arranging fire drills at least once a year.
- Exit sign surveys.
- Fire door checks on a weekly basis.
- Working with the fire risk assessment.
- Managing all checks / paperwork / compliance documentation.
Reactive fire warden duties
While the main role of the Fire Warden is to try and prevent fires, there may be a time when a fire occurs, and the warden needs to react.
In a reactive position, their responsibilities might include:
- Fighting fires / use of fire extinguishers.
- Raise the alarm / call the emergency services.
- Direct staff to safe available exit routes.
- Sweep all rooms where safe to do so ensuring toilets and places like walk in cupboards are checked.
- Assist disabled people.
- Close all windows in rooms and corridors.
- Close all doors and fire doors.
- Ensure final fire doors are closed.
- Ensure hazardous manufacturing processes and machinery has been isolated.
- Take part in the roll call at the assembly point.
- Report to the fire service on their arrival.
Is there a legal requirement for a fire warden?
Yes. UK legislation requires every business to appoint fire wardens. A fire warden should be able to perform their duty and reach a safe place within 2 and a half minutes of hearing an alarm, which means for larger spaces more than one fire warden is required.
There are many other factors that determine how many fire wardens you need, for example if you work with high risk people such as children, elderly or disabled who may need additional assistance, you will need more fire wardens.
What do I need to do once I’ve appointed a fire warden?
Fire wardens need to be properly trained and competent to carry out their role. You should also make sure you have a fire safety procedure in place, including carrying out a fire risk assessment.
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