M C Fire Protection

Call 01869 252600 or 01275 333336

Fire Marshal & Staff Training

Responsible person, marshals and wardens

M C Fire Protection offers Fire Marshal and Staff Fire Training in areas of Bicester, Bristol and all areas throughout the South of England.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO), the person with overall responsibility for fire safety is termed the Responsible Person. The responsible person in most cases is the facilities manager or the fire safety officer, if one is appointed. Article 18 of the RRFSO makes a further requirement for the responsible person to appoint one or more competent persons to assist in this function and to assist in the event of evacuation (Article 15(1)(b)).

To ensure competence, adequate safety training must be provided. The purpose of this article is to identify what is considered to adequate with regards to health and safety training. It will cover the general requirements, as specific risks are determined by the particular activities being carried out on site and the premises used. Specific requirements should be identified in the fire risk assessment. Competence is more than just knowledge, it also involves experience, personal authority and training. Much of this cannot be taught, so this article will concentrate on areas of knowledge and training that can and must be provided by the employer.

The Two Roles

The competent person will undertake one of two roles. As there are no definitive titles for these two roles, the terms fire marshal and fire warden will be used and explained.

The fire marshal should take overall responsibility for the co-ordination of information and the necessary decisions to ensure the safety of people and the property during an emergency or an evacuation. In short, that person will be in control in an emergency. The fire marshal should relinquish responsibility to a senior officer from the emergency services on request, but remain on site to provide information as and when required. In reality, the fire marshal is most likely to be the responsible person or a direct deputy, as that person is most likely to have the necessary competence, ie knowledge, experience, training and authority.

The other role, the fire warden, should be filled by the appointed competent person. The fire warden should take responsibility for local fire safety, the knowledge and awareness of people in the area and ensure that the area is completely clear in the event of an emergency evacuation.

It is important that the fire marshal is competent in both roles as he or she is required to undertake and/or supervise both. However, the fire marshal is not expected to undertake the duties of fire warden in an evacuation, as this would compromise that person's ability to carry out the controlling function effectively.

Competence of the Fire Warden

The fire warden is required to be aware of the fire safety policy and the emergency action procedures in place in the organisation.

In general, knowledge is required regarding:

  • The principles of fire safety;
  • What fire is and how it spreads;
  • The prevention of fires;
  • Controlling the effects if they start;
  • Means of extinguishing fires;
  • Emergency procedures and means of escape;
  • Evacuation of people with disabilities;
  • Intended use of fire extinguishers.

The roles the fire warden is likely to be required to undertake include:

  • Regular checks of the area to ensure that fire safety is not compromised, ie blocked exits, broken or wedged doors, missing equipment, etc.;
  • Checks to ensure that fire safety equipment in the area has been tested as required and is present and not obscured or otherwise compromised;
  • Ensuring that people in the area are aware of the fire and evacuation procedures, in particular the means of raising the alarm;
  • Undertaking the inductions of new persons;
  • Ensuring that the area is clear in the event of an evacuation, eg. by sweeping it;
  • Checking the adequacy of means of evacuation if a disabled person is in the area;
  • Feeding back to the responsible person any defects in the fire safety procedures in the area.

Competence of the fire marshal

The role of the fire marshal is to take control of the situation during an emergency evacuation. It is particularly important that he or she is fully aware of the roles and responsibilities of the fire warden. In particular, the fire marshal should be familiar with the emergency procedures and the roles of all the people, eg.Maintenance engineers shutting off services, in an emergency. Most organisations have a business continuity plan, which is often the source of the emergency response procedures, and this information must be made known to and understood by the fire marshal.

The main role and responsibilities of the fire marshal include:

  • Summoning the emergency services;
  • Ensuring that the emergency vehicles are met and suitably directed on arrival;
  • Accounting for everyone being out of the building (or not);
  • Taking control of movement or restriction of movement of people and vehicles to ensure safety;
  • The procedures detailed to reduce the spread or effect of the cause of the emergency;
  • Ensuring the co-ordination of the business continuity plan (if there is one);
  • Suitable liaison with the emergency services as required under article 13(3)(c) of the RRFSO.

Use of fire extinguishers

A common question is whether fire wardens and fire marshals should be trained in the use of portable fire extinguishers. Under Article 13(3) of the RRFSO, measures for fire fighting must be in place and competent persons should be trained to implement them. However, little detail is given regarding the use of the portable fire extinguishers and, as yet, there is no specific guidance for this. Therefore, current practice is to ensure that there is someone that can assess the danger and decide whether to use the extinguisher or not, and if so, how to use the correct one properly. If all staff are trained in the use of fire extinguishers it may encourage ill advised use in an inappropriate situation, which could result in litigation or prosecution of the employer. On the other hand, not training anyone may be seen as a breach of article 13.

Therefore, it would be reasonable to provide practical training in the use of fire extinguishers only to those that can be relied upon to make a suitable assessment, such as fire wardens, but particularly highlighting the limitations and the need to ensure the persons own safety first.

We have offices based in Bristol and Bicester, and also cover the surrounding locations including; Oxford, Bath and Swindon. Contact the team at either our Bristol or Bicester office to find out more information about our Fire Marshal & Staff Training services 01869 252600 or 01275 333336 or send an email enquiry here