A fire warden is someone who is trained, certified and employed to manage fire safety in the organization. They can also be called fire-watch, fire marshal, etc.
Due to the damaging effect of fire, fire wardens role is very important in any establishment; as they will help to either prevent fire or manage fire incidents.
Every organization that has the tendency to have fire emergency should consider having a fire warden. The number of fire wardens depends on several factors, including:
- The size of the premises
- The number of employees
- The level of anticipated fire risk, etc.
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.
Now, let’s get into the duties of a fire warden:
Duties Of A Fire Warden
- Assist in the inspection, servicing and maintenance of a range of fire appliances and installed fire protection equipment.
- Conduct weekly user tests on fire alarm systems.
- Issue hot work permits to contractors
- Advice all persons within an assigned area to evacuate via the nearest safe exit during a fire emergency.
- Assist in the evacuation of persons with disabilities.
- Lead the fire drills and real evacuation procedures
- Report all fire hazards.
- Assist in implementing and improving effective emergency procedures in your workplace.
- Help prevent emergencies by monitoring the adequacy of the fire risk control measures.
- Raise awareness with other staff about the fire hazards that exist in the workplace.
- Instruct workers in how to respond in an emergency.
- Ensure that all workers are accounted for during an evacuation.
- Direct everyone to leave the building using all the appropriate routes and exits (and not inappropriate exits such as lifts).
- Check all accessible spaces in their area to make sure everyone has evacuated.
- Close doors to help to isolate the fire.
- Guide everyone to the assembly area and assist in checking that everyone has arrived safely.
- Monitor escape routes to see they are kept free of obstructions.
- Check that fire doors are not tied, propped or wedged open where they should not be.
- To check that final exit doors open, and are not obstructed.
- To check that extinguishers are where they should be and no obvious misuse or defect has occurred.
Difference Between Fire Warden and Fire Marshal
Generically, A Fire Marshals are typically professional authorities responsible for code enforcement, inspections, and investigations, while Fire Wardens are individuals within organizations who focus on emergency response coordination and evacuation procedures. In many cases, Fire Wardens operate under the guidance and regulations established by Fire Marshals and other fire safety authorities.
Though this is not always the case; Here is what Virtual College has to say about the difference between a Fire Warden and Fire Marshal;
Some people use the terms ‘fire warden’ and ‘fire marshal’ interchangeably, but they are actually different positions with different responsibilities.
When comparing the roles of a fire marshal and fire warden, as well as their duties, both share the same primary goal – to protect the health and safety of those in the workplace by implementing good fire safety measures and procedures.
The roles may be interpreted as having some slight variations in responsibilities, however, these do largely overlap meaning that there isn’t much of a difference between fire marshals and fire wardens’ roles. Both a fire warden and a fire marshal are considered to be a ‘responsible person’ who, subject to paragraphs 6 and 7 in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, businesses should appoint one or more to assist in undertaking preventative and protective measures.
Thus, both competent persons, whether having the title of a fire marshal or a fire warden, have the shared responsibility of fire safety and will receive fire safety training to help with their duties.
In terms of their responsibilities:
One of the main responsibilities of a fire marshal is to ensure the safe evacuation of a building in the case of a fire. During the evacuation of the building, staff will be required to gather at a designated assembly point where a Fire Marshal will check that all staff are present via a register.
Fire Marshals will liaise with the Fire Safety Manager and inform them if any staff are missing from assembly points. A further role of a Fire Marshal is to keep staff held at the assembly points until the building has been given the all-clear.
In contrast, fire wardens take responsibility for the evacuation of the building, starting the evacuation and searching the building to ensure all staff members have safely evacuated. Fire wardens will also be the last people to leave the site, as they need to check that no staff are left within the building. This also means they assume a level of risk with being the final people to evacuate.
As well as supervising evacuations, the role of the fire warden includes managing and testing the fire safety equipment in a building, organising fire safety training as instructed by their employer, and implementing measures that reduce the risk of a fire.
Every site should also have a Fire Safety Manager who takes on overall responsibility in the event of a fire, with both marshals and wardens assisting them in their duties. All these essential people must have an understanding of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the UK law which details what businesses must do to comply with fire safety law.
If a site is particularly small then there may instead be a ‘Deputy’, who assumes the responsibilities of both a Fire Marshal and Fire Warden by evacuating the building and then performing the necessary checks at the assembly point alongside the Fire Safety Manager.
Duties of a Fire Warden in Fire Emergency
Here are duties of a fire warden during fire emergency;
- Raise the alarm and disseminate the information about a fire hazard.
- Guide everyone about all the appropriate exits so that they can evacuate the building quickly. Also, inform them about not using lifts.
- Allowing vulnerable people to exit first and following a proper Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan.
- Close all fire doors and windows to block the fire from spreading.
- Use fire-fighting equipment, such as extinguishers, if an appropriate type of extinguisher is available and if the fire is small.
- Ensure everyone assembles at a common assembly area and take a roll-call to check everyone has left the building. It should be done on the way out of the building so that the fire warden isn’t putting themselves at risk by re-entering the evacuated area.
- Inform the Emergency Services after arriving at the safe place. Give them relevant details relating to the fire incident and follow any instructions provided.
In conclusion, before you can function as a fire warden, you have to be trained and certified. Enroll for fire warden training to get certified for practice.