How to become a fire warden

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 and the Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 (FSRNI) make no reference to fire wardens or fire marshal roles. However, the FSO states in articles 13, 15 and 18 that the responsible person must appoint one or more competent persons to assist them in undertaking preventative and protective measures.

Individuals who volunteer for the fire warden, fire marshal or deputy roles must be aged 16 or older before they can attend a formal or accredited fire marshal training course.

The training course should cover:

  • fire legislation
  • the cost of fires for business and individuals
  • common causes of fires in the workplace
  • understanding the fire triangle and the behaviours of fire
  • understanding the classification of fires
  • understanding the different types of fire extinguisher and what classification of fire they can be used on
  • fire prevention and protection control measures
  • fire safety and fire safety signage
  • understanding the fire marshal role and responsibilities
  • understanding people’s behaviour in a fire situation, and how they can assist
  • the different types of evacuation equipment available and how each can be used (note: training on specific equipment used in a particular company to be completed separately)
  • a practical session on how to use fire extinguishers

On completion of the course, a small multiple choice exam should be completed, and a fire marshal or fire warden in the workplace certificate issued.

The fire marshal’s additional responsibilities are:

  • monitoring fire safety via frequent visual checks of fire escape routes, fire exit and final fire exit doorsets for obstructions, defects, signage and operational conditions
  • monitoring areas by frequent visual checks on fire equipment
  • ensuring areas they are responsible for can hear the fire alarms
  • assisting the responsible person with the fire risk assessment
  • assisting the responsible person with the emergency plan
  • giving fire briefings to occupants to ensure everyone understands what to do in the event of a fire, fire safety action instructions and familiarisation with fire escape routes and assembly points
  • assisting management, HR or occupational professionals with personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs)
  • reporting faults and unsafe practices
  • controlling the safe evacuation of their area
  • supporting fire evacuation drills

What is included in the daily and weekly checks for a fire warden or marshal?

There are a number of duties under the responsible person’s responsibilities that ensure the premises are complaint with UK fire legislation. There are some duties that can be designated to the fire warden and fire marshal - these are:

  • ensuring the fire alarm is tested and the alarm can be heard in their area
  • ensuring the housekeeping in their area is satisfactory, and there is no build up of combustible materials
  • ensuring that portable and fixed firefighting equipment is in position and free from obstructions
  • ensuring that fire doors are not wedged open and are in working order
  • ensuring fire escape routes have no combustible or flammable materials stored in them, and flammable materials are not within three metres of the escape route
  • ensuring the fire signage is visible, clear, and not damaged
  • ensuring the fire assembly point is clear of obstructions
  • reporting any deviations immediately for resolution

What are the monthly checks required by a fire wardens and marshals?

  • confirming that the emergency lighting has been tested
  • ensuring that all portable and fixed firefighting equipment is serviced and within the next test date
  • ensuring that the portable electrical equipment used is tested
  • ensuring that over the last 12 months a fire drill has been completed
  • reporting any deviations immediately for resolution

What equipment does a fire warden or marshal need?

The basic equipment required by a fire warden or fire marshal will again be highly dependent on the nature of the premises, and the roles and responsibilities of the fire marshals or wardens. The following items may be required:

  • high visibility jacket with with supplementary text stating the role on the back
  • megaphone
  • non flammable airhorn
  • whistle
  • waterproof, intrinsically safe ATEX torch    
  • glow sticks
  • hazard barrier tape
  • role call sheet/printout
  • hazardous area information

How does a fire warden or fire marshal sweep a building? 

Fire wardens and fire marshals sweep a building in the direction of travel to escape routes and final fire exits.

They sweep their own area first and then visually sweep any adjacent rooms, cupboards, stores or toilets en route to the direction of travel to escape routes and final fire exits.

When is it safe for a wardens or fire marshals to tackle fire?

You should only tackle a very small fire (smaller than the size of a waste bin), or a fire that you are trained to and are competent enough to extinguish.

You should only tackle a fire if:

  • the alarm has been raised
  • everyone has been evacuated from the area
  • fire and rescue services have been called (or your in-house emergency response fire team, where you have one)
  • you have a safe escape route and the fire is not between you and this route
  • you use the correct type of fire extinguisher for the fire type

You must leave the fire if:

  • the fire starts to spread
  • your escape route becomes hindered by smoke
  • the fire extinguisher has been fully discharged
  • should you have extinguished the fire, you must advise the person in charge for an additional fire safety investigation

Do not tackle a fire if:

  • the room is filled with smoke or the fire is spreading
  • other hazards are present
  • the fire cannot be extinguished with one fire extinguisher
  • there are not two persons present (the person tackling the fire and another fire warden or fire marshal are the additional people for such a fire situation)

The FPA provides market leading training courses in all areas of fire safety including fire warden training. Find out more here