The responsibilities of a fire warden or fire marshal are normally limited to their designated floor, building or area of the premises, although in the case of small, low risk businesses, the fire marshal may have overall responsibility for the whole premises and all of the staff present. The fire warden role is twofold, covering proactive, day to day responsibilities, as well as reactive responsibilities in the event of an emergency.
Proactive Fire Warden Responsibilities
On a day to day basis, a fire marshal is responsible for proactive fire prevention. This includes:
- Identifying fire hazards in their designated area and reporting them to the appropriate person to be rectified
- Promoting fire risk awareness amongst colleagues and encouraging positive fire-safe behaviour
- Checking fire exit routes are kept clear of obstacles and obstructions
- Ensuring fire doors are free to operate as intended and not wedged or propped open
- Checking fire safety equipment, such as extinguishers, has not been vandalised and
has been properly serviced and charged ready for use
Fire wardens are also responsible for conducting or helping to conduct, fire drills. This not only ensures that all staff are aware of how to react in case of a fire but also checks that the fire alarm and other fire safety equipment works appropriately and that the alarm can be heard in all areas of the building. Fire drills are essential in fine-tuning the emergency response of all staff, including nominated fire wardens.
Reactive Fire Warden Responsibilities
In the event of a fire or other emergency, fire wardens step up to take responsibility for their designated section. We get asked about the responisbilites a lot before people undertake one of our fire warden training courses. The basic responsibilities include:
- Ensuring a swift and safe evacuation of all staff from the area
- Checking the area thoroughly, including bathrooms and side rooms, to make sure no one is left behind
- Checking designated refuge areas for anyone who needs extra assistance
- Switching off equipment and closing windows and doors if it is safe to do so
While their primary objective is to evacuate their designated section as promptly as possible, fire wardens may also choose to tackle a small-scale fire, using firefighting equipment provided. However, this should only be done if it is safe to do so and does not put them, or their colleagues at risk.
Liaising With The Person In Charge
Once they have cleared and checked their designated area, fire wardens should report their status to the person in charge. This includes reporting anyone who is trapped and cannot escape, and whether there is fire and/or smoke present in that section of the building.
If there is only one fire marshal for the business or building, then they will need to report to the emergency services when they arrive. This includes making them aware of any hazards or unusual risks present within the building.
Once they have reported in, the fire warden should make themselves available to help maintain safety, such as keeping people away from the building and guiding them to the designated assembly points.
Helping People With Special Needs
If there is anyone in their section who has special needs, then the fire warden will work with them and the management to create a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan or PEEP. This ensures that the person knows what to do in the event of an emergency and that there is an agreed procedure to ensure their safe evacuation.
Other Responsibilities Of A Fire Warden
As well as the two main areas of responsibility described above, fire wardens or fire marshals may also be required to assist with fire safety planning. This could include the creation and review of fire risk assessments and the monitoring and review of fire drills in order to improve evacuation times.