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July 26, 2019

There is no difference between the role of a fire warden and fire marshal in most workplaces. However, some organisations may wish to use the two titles to help differentiate between two separate roles.

The main duties they are tasked with are taking steps to prevent fires and leading fire drills and evacuations.

What are the main responsibilities of a fire warden?

Fire warden of fire marshal? Whatever title you give them, these people have a vital role to play to support effective fire safety in your workplace. They take both preventative and protective measures to safeguard the safety of their colleagues.

You should always ensure that your chosen employees complete a course in fire safety training. They will then be able to use this knowledge to carry out the following key duties of a fire warden:

  • Fire prevention – Arranging fire risk assessments to be carried out. This is a legal requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005. They should then implement the assessment findings to reduce the likelihood of a fire breaking out at your workplace.
  • Fire protection – Ensuring that all fire alarms and extinguishers, emergency lighting and signage are in place and in good working order. Checking that there are always efficient escape routes in the event of a fire.
  • Fire evacuation – Fine tuning evacuations by performing regular fire drills. They need to ensure that their colleagues leave the building promptly if a fire breaks out and that they are all accounted for.

What is the role of a fire marshal?

Fire exit at workplace

The role of a fire marshal typically involves the same responsibilities as that of a fire warden. It’s just a different title. However, there may be exceptions to this norm.

In larger workplaces, various employees may be recruited to support the person responsible for fire safety and given different titles. In order to split up the responsibilities of their fire safety team, the appropriate person may designate different duties for each. Here’s an example:

Deborah is the responsible person for fire safety at her IT firm in Leeds, which employs 100 people. She appoints and trains five people to support her plans for effective fire safety at the firm’s office, including:

Two fire marshals

The fire marshals arrange risk assessments at the office and work with wardens to minimise risk. In the event of a fire drill or a real-life emergency, they lead the evacuation of the building. They also ensure that nobody returns to the office until it is safe.

Three fire wardens

The fire wardens test fire alarms and equipment and fulfil recommendations from risk assessments. If there is a fire drill or a genuine fire breaks out, they stand at designated assembly points and account for colleagues.

Who is responsible for fire safety in the workplace?

A business’s owner has overall responsibility for fire safety in their workplace, along with anybody else who controls the premises. This could, for example, include a Facilities Manager.

Under the Fire Safety Order 2005, this individual is known as the ‘responsible person’. If there is more than one responsible person, they must work together and may appoint a team of fire wardens to support them.

How many fire wardens do I need at my workplace?

Fire safety legislation doesn’t state that a particular number of fire wardens is required. As a general rule of thumb, one fire warden is usually appointed for every 20 people that work at the premises. Your business may have a higher fire risk than most if, for example, flammable materials are stored on site. If that is the case you should increase the number of fire wardens accordingly.

It’s important to consider that fire wardens will need to complete training courses in order to carry out their duties effectively. When each of them completes their fire warden training courses, you can:

  • Ensure that your workplace has a robust fire strategy in place
  • Demonstrate your commitment to safeguarding employees with sound emergency fire procedures
  • Instil a feeling of trust and a higher level of confidence in your employees

Another consideration when appointing your fire wardens is staff absence. You should make sure that fire wardens do not all take the same period of annual leave.

It is imperative that a sufficient number of fire wardens are always present during opening hours so they can perform their duty in the event of a fire.

How do you become a fire warden?

Fire wardens are usually appointed by the person responsible for fire safety in your organisation. Before they can start carrying out their role, they should receive fire warden training from a provider that is recognised by the Institute of Fire Engineers.

This is an organisation that was set up in 1918 to assess the knowledge of fire and professional experience.

Not only does becoming a fire warden allow you to help make your workplace a safer environment, experience in this role can also increase your employability in the future.

How long does a fire warden certificate last?

Upon completion of their training course, a fire warden will receive a certificate. This is valid for three years. After this period, the fire warden should be booked in for a refresher course. As a result, they will update their knowledge on fire safety and receive a new certificate.

Interested in finding out more about fire safety in your workplace? Our comprehensive guides are free to download. Alternatively you can register your interest in our fire warden training course online or contact our team for more information.

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