Regardless of how safe you think your workplace is there’s always the possibility that a fire may break out. Electrical faults, malfunctioning equipment or simple human errors are all common causes.
Legally, employers in the UK must ensure that a competent person oversees fire safety issues. Trained fire wardens will help protect your business and employees from the risk of fire. In this article, we outline exactly why you need fire wardens in the workplace.
Fire Safety in Business
Every business owner should do as much as possible to guard against fire risks. A fire can be devastating, destroy inventory and equipment and even cause fatalities. A staggering 60% of UK businesses are unable to rebuild and recover after a fire, according to the London Fire Brigade (LFB).
Trained fire wardens will make sure your business is compliant with the law and that fire safety procedures are followed.
Having Fire Wardens in the Workplace is a Legal Obligation
The presence of fire wardens in a workplace is required by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This order stipulates that a ‘responsible person’ must manage all fire safety measures in businesses, in England and Wales. This could be the business owner, landlord, building owner or someone who has some control over the premises.
However, the order recognises that the responsible person is not always going to be on-site. So, the responsible person is allowed to nominate a ‘competent person’ to take charge of fire safety duties. While the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 does not mention a specific title, the nominated ‘competent person’ is often a fire warden.
The penalties for not complying with this order can be severe. You could be fined £5,000 for a minor breach. There is no monetary limit set for fines that can be imposed for serious breaches. In the past, business owners have been fined more that £60,000. Very serious fire safety offences can result in up to two years imprisonment as well as a fine.
Fire Wardens in the Workplace Will Keep Your People and Property Safe
Fire is an all too common occurrence in workplaces throughout the UK. The UK averages 22,000 workplace fires per year, as recorded by recent government statistics. Unfortunately, the majority of these workplace fires were preventable, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Trained fire wardens in a workplace are responsible for implementing fire prevention measures. They must perform risk assessments to identify fire hazards. The results of these assessments are used to eliminate or mitigate the hazards. Fire wardens must also conduct regular inspections and testing of all fire safety equipment and alarms.
Often, fire wardens organise fire drills and run fire safety training courses for new staff members. Existing staff are given refresher courses.
If a fire does break out, fire wardens take a proactive role. They must raise the alarm, alert authorities, and ensure the efficient evacuation of everyone in the building. If it is safe to do so, they may use firefighting equipment to slow or stop the spread of the fire.
Once they are outside the building, fire wardens make sure all staff are at assembly points, coordinate with emergency responders and keep people from entering the premises.
What are the Responsibilities of Fire Wardens?
As part of their responsibilities, fire safety wardens will:
- Perform regular fire risk assessments
- Identify, report and make a record of all fire hazards
- Sound the alarm and take action if there is a fire
- Provide first aid to injured persons
- If safe to do so, use firefighting equipment to stop the fire from spreading
- Oversee the safe evacuation of all occupants from a burning building
There are plenty of resources available to raise awareness for fire warden duties.
How Many Fire Wardens Do You Need?
The number of fire wardens your business needs depends on how large your premises are, how many people occupy it and whether or not your business is deemed a high fire risk. Because staff can be absent from work, or work different shifts, at least two trained fire wardens is advised.
The general guidelines for fire wardens in a workplace are as follows:
- Low-risk workplaces require one trained fire warden for every 50 employees
- Medium-risk workplaces need one trained fire warden for every 20 employees
- High-risk workplaces need one trained fire warden for every 15 employees
Learn more about how many fire wardens your business needs right here.
Fire Safety Measures Every Business Should Follow
As well as appointing fire wardens and performing fire risk assessments, there are some general fire safety measures that all businesses should follow:
- Housekeeping – Make sure that the workplace is clean and tidy, this will reduce the potential fire load
- Fire Fighting Equipment – Make sure that there is sufficient firefighting equipment
- Documentation – Have a fire safety plan and distribute it to employees
- Inspections and maintenance – Make sure that all electrical systems and equipment are in good working order
- Training – Provide fire safety training to all staff
Where to Find Fire Safety Training for Fire Wardens
If your workplace does not have trained fire wardens, then your business and your people are at greater risk. Enrolling your staff in fire warden training will help you to avoid a catastrophic fire or incurring penalties for breaching fire safety regulations.
Human Focus provides accredited fire warden training courses designed to help businesses comply with the law and stay fire safe.
The Role of the Fire Warden course provides participants with a good understanding of the duties and responsibilities of a fire warden. This course can be done in under 30 minutes and can be taken online. Successful participants will receive an industry-recognised certificate that can be downloaded immediately.
Sign up for a fire safety course today!