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MCFP > Fire Alarms  > Responsibilities of a Building’s Fire Marshal

Responsibilities of a Building’s Fire Marshal

Fire marshal responsibilities are not something to take on lightly. As a fire marshal, there are numerous aspects of training and procedures that you are responsible for. 

We’re taking you through everything you need to know about becoming a fire marshal. Including fire marshal responsibilities, what training entails, and what you do in the event of a fire.

So, grab your safety boots, and let’s get into it. 

What is a fire marshal?

A fire marshal is responsible for identifying potential threats in a building and knowing fire safety regulations. They act as the responsible person that ensures the building and its processes are all up to date and working regarding fire safety.

Additionally, the fire marshal is responsible for getting everybody out safely in the event of a fire.

So, being a fire marshal isn’t only about training and cool gadgets. You need to be willing to step up when there’s an emergency. 

Aside from fire safety measures, you also are responsible for people’s lives. This is something that not many people take into account when volunteering for the position. 

What is the difference between a fire marshal and a fire warden?

While they sound similar, a fire warden’s responsibilities are different to a fire marshal’s.

A fire warden checks that everyone is out of the building once evacuated. They complete the headcount to see who’s there. 

Additionally, the fire warden ensures that nobody else comes close to the building. This is a vital part of the role to ensure nobody gets hurt until the building has a green light from fire safety and rescue.

In short, while fire marshal duties have a proactive element (looking to identify threats and prevent fires), fire warden duties are mostly reactive in the event of a fire.

We recommend appointing a person for each role. It makes things easier and takes the pressure off one person being responsible for everything and everyone. 

What are the roles of a fire marshal?

On a day to day basis

Routine checks to see that emergency exists are clear

During a fire, there’s no time to lift last year’s Christmas table out of the passageway. A fire marshal ensures that all safety exits are clear of fire hazards and that people can get through quickly. 

A fire safety marshal will remove anything in the way and let the building owner know if large items need removing. 

Making sure all equipment is working

The amount of times a fire gets out of control because the fire alarms aren’t working or the batteries weren’t replaced is astounding. 

As a fire marshal, you must triple-check that everything is working correctly. But this doesn’t only go for detection devices. 

You need to check all fire safety equipment too. Including making sure:

  • Fire extinguishers are within the safety dates.
  • Fire safety blankets are where indicated.
  • Fire safety signs are clear.

Conducting fire drills and implementing evacuation plans

One of the essential things fire marshals do is implement an evacuation plan. During a fire, there isn’t time to think. A thoroughly thought-out plan can be the difference between life and death. 

There should be a clearly marked evacuation plan on the wall of every building, so people know what to do. Even if they don’t look at the whole thing, passing it enough times in the corridor, something will stick. 

Fire marshals also give everyone in the building a detailed plan to read through. The fire drills are mainly the physical part. The plan tells the occupants what they need to do. 

You must ensure the following during a drill:

  • Fire safety signs are clear.
  • Fire extinguishers are readily available.
  • Fire assembly points designated.

During an emergency

Sounding the alarm

A fire marshal is responsible for making building occupants aware of an emergency. There must be a clear distinction between a drill and an actual emergency. 

After all, that’s where the term “this is not a drill” comes from. 

As a fire marshal, you should set the fire alarm off, indicate it isn’t a drill session, call emergency services, and prepare the building for evacuation. 

Prepping the building

Once a fire starts, the marshal must jump into action quickly. That evacuation plan is going to be vital for you here. 

In an emergency, your adrenaline can get the better of you. So, remain calm and follow the plan to ensure you do everything that’s needed. 

The fire marshal will close all the fire doors and fire-proofed spaces to stop the fire from spreading. They may need to use fire safety gear to curb the spread. 

Helping occupants evacuate

If occupants need additional help getting out of the building, the marshal will assist them as best they can. 

The marshal should stand and direct people if possible to ensure they all get to the fire exits. This is important if there is low visibility due to smoke. 

Once the fire doors are shut, and everyone is out, the fire marshal should quickly sweep each floor, ensuring that nobody is trapped or left behind. 

If the sweep is clear, it’s time to do a headcount. This is why it might be best to have two designated people.

The fire marshal can get people out and do their sweep while the fire warden does a headcount and ensures nobody else goes in the building. The fire service should already be on its way at this point.

Do you legally need a fire marshal?

Yes, if you own or rent a property for work in the UK, you are classified as a “responsible person.” It is your job to ensure there are emergency procedures in place. 

You can appoint people in the building to ensure these emergency procedures are implemented. But you must get them adequate fire marshal training, ensure the facility is up to code, and ensure all safety checks are done. 

That’s why we offer a Fire Risk Assessment Service. We ensure that the building is fully prepared with fire safety equipment that is up to code and that all fire hazards are removed. This allows you to feel confident and prepared for any situation.

How many fire marshals do I need?

Many factors affect how many marshals you should appoint. These include the size of the building, the number of employees, and if anyone requires additional help in an emergency. 

Your business will have a grade; low, medium, or high risk. This also impacts how many people need fire safety training.

We can help you establish how many fire safety marshals you need with our fire safety training courses.

What Does Fire Marshal Training Cover?

We offer extensive fire safety training courses in Bicester, Bristol, and throughout the South of England. 

Employees will learn the following:

  • How fire spreads.
  • How to prevent a fire.
  • Fire safety procedures.
  • Extinguisher training.
  • Fire safety activities.
  • Fire marshal roles.
  • What legislation dictates.


Does a business need a fire marshal? 

Yes, by law, every business in the UK with more than five people in a building must have a designated fire marshal. 

What does a fire marshal do? 

A fire marshal is responsible for having emergency procedures in place and implementing them in an emergency. Also, a fire marshal’s responsible for ensuring that all fire safety checks are up to date.

Do fire marshals need training? 

Yes, marshals need extensive fire marshal training. They need to know what to do and what they are responsible for in the event of a fire. 


Appointing a fire marshal is one of the most important things you will do as a business owner. You are solely responsible for ensuring that people in your business are trained and know what to do in an emergency. 

Not having procedures in place can lead to hefty fines and even jail time. You need to be responsible when it comes to your employees’ safety. 

But don’t panic. At MCFP, we’re here to help you with the proper fire risk assessment and fire safety training. Check out our fire alarm installation and maintenance service, fire risk assessment services, and fire training, or get in touch today to learn more.

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