Every workplace of a certain size should have at least one member of staff nominated to carry out the duties of a fire warden. How many wardens, or fire marshals as they are sometimes known, are needed depends on the size of the workplace.
The duties of a fire warden are not just confined to instances where an evacuation of the building is required. Indeed, competent fire wardens who are constantly vigilant should help to decrease the likelihood of a fire breaking out.
Many of the regular checks a fire warden will carry out are essentially those covered in a fire risk assessment. Although the ongoing duties of a warden are not set in stone, there are some elements which should be carried out religiously. These include ensuring that all emergency exits and fire routes are kept clear and free from any obstructions at all times. This includes the interior and exterior.
Regular inspections of fire safety equipment, such as extinguishers, alarms and fire curtains, should also be carried out. Of course, the actual servicing of equipment such as the fire curtains and alarms should only be carried out by professionals.
Wardens need only be concerned with ensuring that all equipment is in its designated place, clearly signposted and, in the case of fire alarms, tested on a weekly basis.
A fire warden’s main aim is to try to prevent fires from occurring in the first place. However, there are occasions when an emergency situation will arise. In these instances, a fire warden will assume new responsibilities.
One of the major responsibilities of a workplace fire warden during an emergency situation is to ensure that all staff are directed safely to the nominated exits. This includes giving extra assistance to those who may have mobility issues which make it difficult to leave the building. If it is safe to do so, a fire warden should complete a sweep of all rooms, including toilets, to ensure that nobody is left inside. Wardens should be the last people to leave the building and then be available to help with the roll call outside.
In certain cases, a fire warden may tackle a fire themselves with the use of extinguishers. However, this should not be done at the expense of their own personal safety and ideally should be left in the hands of fire-fighting professionals.