Fire wardens have an important role to play in any business. They’re not only responsible for helping people evacuate during a fire drill, they also assist in emergency procedure planning and fire prevention.
In 2017-18 there were 11,141 accidental fires in non-domestic properties. Most fires are preventable, and fire wardens have a part to play in day-to-day fire safety, checking for any fire hazards or risks.
Have you been given the role of fire warden? Our handy checklist will give you the rundown of everything you need to know.
What are the duties of a fire warden in the workplace?
In any business, the person known as the Responsible Person has legal responsibility for fire safety. The Responsible Person is usually the employer and can assign fire safety duties to other people, including fire wardens.
As a fire warden you may be asked to carry out a fire risk assessment.This has five steps:
- Identify fire hazards
- Identify anyone at risk
- Evaluate, remove or reduce the risk
- Record findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training
- Regularly revisit the fire risk assessment in case it needs updating.
Even if you’re not responsible for completing the fire risk assessment, it’s important to keep these steps in mind when considering fire safety in your building.
Fire prevention and safety
Day-to-day, fire wardens can check the following:
- Fire doors are undamaged and not wedged open. If they are wedged open, remove the wedges. If closed fire doors cause access issues, install hold-open devices that release doors to close on the sound of the fire alarm
- Emergency escape routes are clearly signed
- Fire exits and escape routes are not blocked
- Firefighting equipment, e.g. fire extinguishers and fire blankets, are stored correctly and not missing or damaged
- Emergency lighting is working
- Rubbish is safely stored away and not overflowing
- Sockets are not overloaded and electrical equipment does not have frayed wiring
- Lead fire drills at least once a year
- Fire safety training for all new staff
- Ensure everyone is familiar with the evacuation procedure
- Make sure fire alarms and smoke alarms are tested weekly
Taking charge in an emergency
When the fire alarm sounds:
- Phone emergency services if required
- Direct everyone to the nearest exit, not using the lifts
- Assist those that need it, e.g. wheelchair users
- Fight fire if safe to do so
- Check everywhere to ensure all have evacuated, including toilets
- Close doors
- Guide everyone to assembly area and roll call
- Ensure everyone is accounted for
How many fire wardens do we need?
In a normal risk premises the following applies:
Fewer than 20 employees: at least one fire warden
20-75 employees: at least two fire wardens
For every additional 75: one additional fire warden
It’s important to remember that all shifts must be adequately covered, so you may have to nominate additional fire wardens to ensure there are enough for each shift.
For higher risk premises, such as care homes, more fire wardens are required. Specific details are available in our care home fire safety blog.