What is the Role of a Fire Warden?
Fires in the workplace are something every business needs to plan for. Having an effective fire safety plan in place ensures that the whole building is evacuated and all employees are accounted for.
Fire marshals and fire wardens play a vital role in this fire safety plan, dividing up responsibilities in the event of a fire to allow for a quick evacuation. Whether you’re a business owner trying to ensure that your organisation has an effective fire safety approach, or a fire warden wanting to understand your role, this article covers everything you need to know about the roles and responsibilities of a fire warden.
Some people use the terms ‘fire warden’ and ‘fire marshal’ interchangeably, but they are actually different positions with different 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.
There are a range of responsibilities of a fire warden as part of the role, covering various aspects of fire safety management. These include:
A fire warden needs to manage all of the above aspects of fire safety and is responsible for taking the necessary action in each case to keep everyone in the building safe. If you’re a fire warden, each of these responsibilities influences the actions you need to take to fulfil your role.
Once you understand the roles and responsibilities of a fire warden, you need to know what the practical duties of the role are. These will be the tasks that a fire warden must carry out, sometimes alongside the building or workplace manager, in order to remove or reduce the risk of fire as much as possible and minimise the impact that it might have.
The duties of a fire warden include:
Some of these duties, such as providing fire safety training, storing fuel and heat sources, organising PAT testing and completing risk assessments, are also the legal responsibility of your employer or the building manager. They may ask you to complete the tasks on their behalf, but they should be involved in the process.
In the event of a fire, the role of a fire warden is to ensure that everyone is safely evacuated from the building. They have a duty of care to anyone inside, and whilst they should never put themselves in danger, the role does carry some risk.
The responsibilities of a fire warden during an evacuation include:
If you are a fire warden, you should never put yourself in danger to try and put out a fire or help someone if there’s a chance that you will be injured or trapped in the process. However, you should be one of the last people to exit a building when a fire evacuation takes place and make sure to check every room as you leave, which does present a slight risk that should be managed sensibly.
The role of a fire warden is appointed to someone by the ‘responsible person’ in a building or workplace, to act as a support in implementing fire safety and prevention measures. Many people volunteer for the role of fire warden, as it’s a great way to gain more responsibility at work and learn new skills that have practical applications in other areas as well.
Individuals that volunteer or are chosen to become a fire warden must attend a fire warden training course to learn what is expected of them in the role. After undertaking a fire safety training course, they will receive an official qualification and are then expected to perform the necessary duties that we outlined earlier in this article.
Fire warden training can be completed online or in person, and will usually be organised by an employer. If you’re looking for an online fire warden training course, Virtual College offers a ‘Fire Safety for Fire Marshals and Wardens Training Package’ which covers general fire safety training and specific training for the roles of fire marshal and fire warden.
The primary role of a fire warden is to implement fire safety measures in a building or workplace that reduce or remove the likelihood of fire. These measures should be proactive, aim to protect the people in the building, and be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that everyone is kept as safe as possible.
The duties and responsibilities of a fire marshal cover a wide variety of areas, but the six main responsibilities are:
General guidance is that fire warden training should be refreshed every three years. This ensures that fire wardens are given the most up-to-date advice on how to prevent and manage fires and that they’ve had their training refreshed so they remember it all in the event of an emergency.
Fire wardens and fire marshals are both essential roles that must be filled for a building or workplace to meet fire safety requirements and be able to conduct a safe fire evacuation when necessary. If you’re taking on the responsibilities of a fire warden, it’s important to understand what you’ll be responsible for and what your day-to-day duties will be in order to meet the requirements of the position.
For more information on the roles and responsibilities in a fire-related emergency, our ‘Fire Marshal and Warden’ training course, which goes in-depth on what you need to do in the event of a fire and helps to provide a high standard of staff fire safety training.