How Many Fire Marshals Do I need? The number of Fire Wardens required is based on an assessment of risk, which considers the building type, the use of the building, the numbers and types of occupants, and the way your business typically operates.
As a business owner, landlord, or manager, fire safety is a part of your job that shouldn’t be overlooked. In the case of offices, not only must a workforce of staff be protected, but also any visitors.
The minimum number of fire wardens needed for an office depends on multiple factors, and so the number will be different for every single workplace. You need enough fire wardens to guide everyone out safely and scout the designated area for people left behind. The higher the risk in the workplace, the more fire wardens you will need to cover people. Low risk = 1 per 50. Medium risk = 1 per 20. High risk = 1 per 15.
A professional fire risk assessment. is the only clear way to determine whether your business is high, medium, or low risk – Larger premises take longer to ‘sweep’, there should be a sufficient number of Fire Wardens to check all relevant areas of the building for people and ensure that all areas are evacuated to a place of relative safety within 2 ½ minutes of the alarm being raised/fire being discovered. If your premises is low risk e.g. an office where the number of people present is relatively low and there is no sleeping risk, it will be relatively straightforward to evacuate (a corresponding relatively low number of Fire Wardens required), however, if your premises is high risk e.g. a care home, with not only a sleeping risk but immobile or neurologically impaired people, it will be much more difficult to evacuate (a correspondingly high number of Fire Wardens will be required).
The Role and Responsibilities of a Fire Warden
The main role of a Fire Warden is to keep people safe from a fire on a day-to-day basis and bring into action the emergency plan, should an evacuation be required. The role involves monitoring fire safety at all times, actively following good fire safety practices, and taking action in the event of a fire.
Key Duties of a Fire Warden include:
- Assist the Workplace Manager in implementing and improving effective emergency arrangements within the workplace;
- Assist in preventing emergencies by monitoring the adequacy of the fire risk control measures;
- Raise awareness with other staff about the fire hazards that exist within the workplace;
- Instruct occupants in the action to be undertaken in response to a fire emergency;
- Assist the Workplace Manager in undertaking simulated Fire Evacuation Drills to evaluate the effectiveness of emergency arrangements – they must be familiar with all fire emergency escape routes and exits from their designated area
- Ensure all people from within the workplace are accounted for during an evacuation and
- Assist all people in the workplace should an emergency occur, including assisting people with special needs, e.g. helping someone in a wheelchair to evacuate.
If the fire alarm is sounded, Fire Wardens have a Duty of care to assist in the safe evacuation of all workplace occupants including visitors, and to ensure that their designated area has been cleared.
Fire Marshal Responsibilities Include
- Direct everyone to leave the workplace/building using all appropriate routes and exits, (avoid inappropriate exits, such as lifts)
- Check all accessible spaces in their area, including bathrooms and toilets, to make sure everyone has evacuated – this should be undertaken whilst exiting the area so as not to expose themselves to unnecessary risks or delays
- Close windows and doors behind them so as to isolate any spread of fire
- Guide everyone to the designated Fire Assembly Area and assist in confirming that everyone has arrived safely
- Liaise with the Emergency Services on arrival at the premise informing them of any relevant details relating to the fire incident and follow any instructions provided.
Who’s going to receive the training?
When deciding who to train as a Fire Warden, you must consider the following;
- The person responsible for the overall fire safety arrangements, together with key senior members of staff.
- Who’s likely to be in the building at the time of an incident? Choose staff who are predominantly based on the premises rather than those who often work away.
- Don’t choose people who are in a job role with a high turnover of staff or those on a temporary contract.
- If you have weekend or night working, you’ll need cover during these periods.
It is important to remember that the required number of fire wardens must be present at all times. This means that you need to provide cover for shift patterns, sickness, holidays, and other absences. While these ‘deputy’ fire wardens may only be required occasionally, they still require the same level of training.
The best way to ensure the safety of your team – as well as any visitors to your building – in a fire situation is to employ a trained and qualified fire marshal in the role.
If you run a business, it is important that your staff have the appropriate fire safety training.
If there’s a fire and you haven’t met your legal duties to keep people safe you may be fined or receive a custodial sentence.
Don’t be caught without the correct safety measures in place!
If you are unsure of what your responsibilities are, talk to one of our experienced fire & safety experts.