Fires occur in workplaces throughout the United Kingdom. If a fire does break out in your place of business, it can cause significant damage to your property and put the lives of you and your colleagues at risk. To reduce the risk of fire, every workplace must have a trained person who can act as a fire warden.
The role of a fire warden is to implement proactive and protective fire safety measures. It’s a legal requirement that every workplace has a person that can competently perform this role. In this article, we explain the various fire warden responsibilities.
What is the Legal Requirement for Having Fire Wardens?
The duty to ensure that all fire safety measures are implemented in a workplace is placed upon the ‘responsible person’, according to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The responsible person is often the owner of the business, but can also be the landlord, the owner of the building, a manager or managing agent, or a person that has some form of control over the building.
It’s unreasonable to expect the responsible person to perform all the fire safety duties on their own. They may not be able to be at the premises all the time or may not have sufficient knowledge or training.
For this reason, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that:
‘The responsible person must, subject to paragraphs (6) and (7), appoint one or more competent persons to assist him in undertaking the preventive and protective measures.’
The competent persons who assist the responsible person are often known as fire wardens.
What is the Difference Between a Fire Marshal and a Fire Warden?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 doesn’t specify what title the competent person should be given. A business or organisation can give the competent person the title of a fire warden or refer to them as a fire marshal. As far as the law is concerned, there’s no difference between these roles, and the titles are interchangeable.
In some cases, a business or organisation might appoint both a fire warden and a fire marshal. The fire marshal is usually tasked with preventative duties such as performing risk assessments. If a fire occurs, the fire marshal will take charge of the evacuation process.
The fire warden is often responsible for testing fire alarms and firefighting equipment and implementing risk assessment recommendations. If there’s a fire, the fire warden should assist the fire marshal with the evacuation of the building.
In an emergency, fire warden duties include standing at a designated evacuation point, performing a headcount on evacuated staff, and stopping people approaching the building until it’s safe to do so. In some cases, a fire warden will organise and conduct fire drills throughout the year.
What are the Main Fire Warden Duties?
Let’s assume that the competent person has been given the title of fire warden and is responsible for implementing all fire safety measures. If this is the case, the fire warden will be expected to perform a range of duties on a daily basis and also have an important role if a fire occurs.
Fire wardens must be trained in the use of different types of fire extinguishers and how to conduct fire risk assessments. They also need to know how to inspect fire doors properly and how to develop and implement fire safety procedures.
Daily Fire Warden Responsibilities
Typical daily fire warden responsibilities include:
- Checking fire alarms, emergency exits, firefighting equipment and fire doors
- Testing emergency lighting
- Ensuring there is adequate fire safety signage
- Performing periodic fire risk assessments
- Updating risk assessments and fire prevention measures
- Keeping evacuation routes free of obstructions
- Disposing of any flammable materials
- Conducting fire drills
- Planning evacuation routes
- Establishing designated assembly points
- Training new employees on fire safety
- Running refresher safety training courses
- Ensuring all electrical systems conform to fire safety regulations
- Recording all fire safety measures and procedures
The Role of a Fire Warden During a Fire
If a fire does break out, the role of a fire warden is to:
- Activate the fire alarm
- Alert the authorities
- Close all fire doors and doors to fireproof areas
- Evacuate staff from the building
- Assist vulnerable people with evacuation
- Ensure all staff are evacuated and present at assembly points
- Communicate and coordinate with emergency responders
- If it is safe to do so, use firefighting equipment to stop the fire from spreading
Human Focus offers a free infographic about Fire Warden Duties for easy reference and it can be distributed to other staff.
How Many Fire Wardens Should Your Business Have?
The number of fire wardens depends on several factors, including:
- The size of the premises
- How many people the business or organisation employs
- A fire warden should be able to conduct a sweep of the workplace and reach a safe area or assembly point within two and a half minutes of a fire alarm being activated
If the workplace has a large number of employees or vulnerable people or large premises, then multiple fire wardens may be required. Since a fire warden might occasionally be absent from the workplace due to sickness or work different shifts, it’s advisable to train more than one member of staff to handle the duties.
Having more than one fire warden ensures that all daily risk assessments are performed properly and that all safety procedures are carried out during an emergency.
Where to Find Fire Warden Training Courses
Every week there’s an average of 423 workplace fires in the UK. Every business should take fire safety seriously. Fire safety training will give your staff the skills they need to keep themselves and the work premises safe during a fire.
You can find accredited, online fire safety training course on the Human Focus website. They run from between 10 minutes to three hours and cover subjects such as how to perform a fire risk assessment, fire door inspection, and the role of a fire warden.