The Fire Safety Responsibilities of a Fire Warden
What are the Responsibilities of a Fire Warden?
Do you know who the designated fire warden/fire marshal is in your workplace? Or is it you that’s been assigned the task of upholding fire safety in the workplace? If that’s the case, do you know what your fire warden responsibilities are?
The importance of fire safety cannot be emphasised enough. You might be thinking to yourself that fires seem pretty rare nowadays, but the reality is: fires cause devastation to businesses in Britain every year, of which 80% are estimated to never fully recover.
In 2015/2016, there were around 30,000 fires recorded in buildings that were not dwellings. Of this, there were almost 2,000 non-fatal casualties, and 39 fatalities.
Even one instance of a fire or a fire-related injury is one too many – that is why your role exists.
What are my Duties as Designated Fire Warden?
While it’s your employer’s duty to physically implement fire safety measures, such as alarm systems, escape routes, fire extinguishers, etc., you play an important part in the preservation of said measures. Your role involves ensuring that fire safety arrangements are properly in place and involves leading the swift and safe evacuation of everyone on the premises in the instance of a fire.
Let’s take a look at some of your specific duties:
Most of this simply involves regularly reviewing and assessing your workplace’s existing safety measures and procedures. It involves being aware of any significant changes that could compromise fire safety, and taking action to apply new measures which will prevent fires from breaking out.
The most important aspect of your role, however, involves being prepared for an actual fire. Because sometimes, despite how carefully we lay our plans, they often go awry. You need to be ready to leap into action if they do.
Your Role During a Fire Evacuation
Your top priority will be ensuring that evacuation plans are effective and understood by everyone on the premises. You will be their guide in the instance of a fire. You will be the one who will respond to the fire and will do all you can to minimise the risks it poses to everyone in the building.
During an evacuation, the actions you need to take can be broken down into 6 simple steps:
- Instruct people to leave the area via the safest route and offer assistance.
After you or someone else has raised the alarm, you need to gently but firmly tell everyone to leave the area. You could use a whistle or loudspeaker if your premises is especially large and there are a number of people. Offer assistance to anyone that requires it.
- Search the area.
You will need to perform a full sweep of your designated area to ensure that no one has been left behind. Check isolated areas, refuges, toilets, and anywhere else someone could still be located. It’s also imperative that you scout escape routes and make sure they have not been compromised before sending people onto them.
- Minimise risks.
While evacuating, you should do what you can along the way to keep risks of the fire worsening at an absolute minimum. For example, you should close windows and doors to starve the fire of oxygen and reduce the spread of smoke, and should find the source of the fire and eliminate it where possible.
- Decide whether or not you can fight the fire safely.
Only fight the fire if you are suitably trained to do so and if you understand the different types of fire. This is important. Fighting a fire when you are not trained or knowledgeable could not only put yourself at risk, but others too; you could make the fire ten times worse if it is combated incorrectly.
- Report to and cooperate with others who are also in charge of fire safety.
Working together with other fire wardens (if your organisation has several) and with the emergency services will make for a much safer, more thorough evacuation, and hopefully minimise damages. Give the emergency services any details they ask for, such as the location of the fire and its source.
- Report to assembly points and take roll calls.
You will be in charge of taking a roll call. Go to the assembly point once you’ve evacuated the building; do not return inside or allow anyone else to do so. If anyone is unaccounted for or there was someone who refused to leave, inform the emergency services.
What’s important during a fire evacuation is that you do everything you can to not put others at risk and do not put yourself in danger. Everyone needs to remain calm; panic will only make matters worse. You need to remain level headed and instil trust in those you are in charge of evacuating.
In doing so, you will be capable of fulfilling your role as fire warden. By knowing how to uphold fire safety best practices, you can take appropriate action to help ensure that nobody comes to harm.