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Fire Wardens/Marshals


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Hi all

I'm after some advice re the above. I help to manage a large multi site organisation that has a lot of different buildings in different places. Pre COVID all of these premises had fixed members of staff working fixed hours so it was relatively easy to identify fire wardens/marshals and provide training.

As the organisation has adapted to COVID the presence of staff in our buildings has significantly reduced and cannot be guaranteed on any one day of the week. It is therefore impossible to identify Fire marshals/wardens.

We are proposing to provide all staff with an enhanced online training package, repeated annually, that would include everything that fire warden/marshals would have received with the exception of practical use of fire extinguishers.

The RRFSO makes reference to training but does not specifically mention wardens/marshals. (unless I've missed that bit!)

Any advice gratefully received,

Thanks in advance


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Hi Tim

This is a huge problem and one I have also faced in my recent role where I also was responsible for multiple sites, some with 24/7 working 

After some consideration, I felt the only way out was to recruit additional wardens. Our large Head Office had 200 staff signed up as wardens (we needed 120 to sweep all areas), so we increased numbers to around 280 with a new target of 320 in place before I left that role.

Our pre-Covid procedures were very tight and well managed. No so now. Frankly we had to adopt a 'best endeavours' system. Throwing wardens at the problem is a very blunt and imperfect way of ensuring we have the correct number of staff in the right place at the right time. But with 1000s of staff working various hybrid systems, its virtually impossible to be sure wardens are where we would have wanted them 100% of the time.

So in summary, I agree with what I believe you have done and trained up more staff to have more chance of sufficient wardens 

Article 21 of the Fire Safety Order requires that all staff receive training, and the training be proportionate to their role and the risks they may face. Its is really down to your FRA as to whether an annual e-learning or online training is sufficient, but there is no reason why it couldn't be.

We chose a live online training session delivered by a contractor via zoom, followed by onsite briefings in person which include a 'walk around' of the warden's specifically area they will be sweeping. The briefings were delivered by the fire team or on some sites Estates or fellow wardens. 

In time when the risk of covid decreases, face to face train sessions will hopefully return  - but I have moved on so who knows? 

One more thing:- Enforcing authorities will expect:

  1. A review of your FRA to cover the changes in your management of evacuations, and 
  2. A fire drill ASAP to test the new systems and training

 Good luck 

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We have got the same issue in some of our sites as highlighted last Monday when we had an alarm activation. Historically staff would of been working fixed patterns and it would of been covered, on Monday we had 1 person for that building in and they didn't have a clue what to do.

It wasn't a building I knew well but ended up dealing with it as no one was wanting to do anything or even checked the panel!!!

The outcome I have put forward is that more are trained as fire wardens and all staff are given a refresher and some drills are carried out, but also to put a plan in place if staffing is reduced to deal with the issue we had.

All staff do basic fire awareness but the warden side, not sure how best to deal with it with the new ways of working other than potentially training up whole departments.

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It really is a tough one and your thoughts and advice is appreciated. I think that we are definitely in the 'spirit' of the act by delivering enhanced training to EVERYONE without being able to say that at all times we have fire wardens 1 2 3 4 responsible for areas A B C D. The fact is there may not be anyone to check B C in the event of an alarm so that is what the fire co-ordinator would tell the brigade on arrival. A and D are clear but B and C are unchecked. Not ideal I know but........

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Can you just clarify that the FSO does/doesn't specifically reference Fire Wardens? Our solicitors are saying it's a 'legal requirement' but I can't find that specific bit anywhere?


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TMC - Article 15 (1) says it all...................(my bits in BLUE)

Procedures for serious and imminent danger and for danger areas  (AKA emergency plans)

15. —(1) The responsible person (Employer) must—

(a) establish and, where necessary, give effect to appropriate procedures, including safety drills, to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to relevant persons;

(b) nominate a sufficient number of competent persons to implement those procedures in so far as they relate to the evacuation of relevant persons from the premises; ....... (Wardens )

(c) ensure that no relevant person has access to any area to which it is necessary to restrict access on grounds of safety, unless the person concerned has received adequate safety instruction.

Later, in Article 15 (3) its states in relation to training.....

(3) A person is to be regarded as competent for the purposes of paragraph (1) where he has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable him properly to implement the evacuation procedures referred to in that paragraph.

I hope this helps 

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