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What is a Fire Marshal?

Updated: Apr 28

man carrying out an inspection of fire extinguisher

In the UK, a fire marshal is someone that is responsible for ensuring the safety of people in the event of a fire. Also known as a fire warden, a fire marshal has a number of responsibilities in the workplace and will also put various measures into place to help reduce the risk of a fire occurring.

 

 

In this Article:



 

What Does a Fire Marshal Do?

 

A fire marshal is employed by the business or building to keep the workers safe and to prevent the risk of fires in the work place. They will perform regular risk assessments around the work space by assessing that the fire alarms work, the escape doors open and there are no obstructions in the way of the access route when people need to leave quickly.


  1. Regular Risk Assessments A fire marshal should conduct assessments to regularly identify possible hazards that could cause a possible fire risk or increase the risk of injury in the event of a fire.

  2. Report Risks and Hazards The risks and hazards identified should be reported to the health and safety manager with appropriate safety measures suggested to remove these hazards.

  3. Apply First Aid A fire marshal should be trained in basic first aid so that they can provide medical support to people if a fire breaks out .

  4. Co-ordinate Evacuations The fire marshal is responsible for keeping track of evacuations in the event of a fire, they should direct people to exit points and keep track of any persons still inside the building.

  5. Control Fires A fire marshal should be trained in the use of fire extinguishers and able to use them to fight fires where it is safe to do so.


The fire marshals are also responsible for helping to prevent or reduce the risk of a fire occurring in the first place by removing all potential hazards in the workplace. The fire marshals are required to receive appropriate training and their main job is then to highlight any concerns regarding fire safety and fix them before an issue can arise.


Adherence to Regulations

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that all members of staff must receive fire awareness training but this doesn’t mean the employees are now trained as a fire marshal. The law also states that the employer has a responsibility to keep everyone safe and this often means that employing a fire marshal is the safest and most responsible option.


 

How Many Fire Marshals Should I Have?

 

There are numerous factors that employers should consider when deciding on how many fire marshals to employ. The ideal amount of fire marshals in the workplace will depend on the size of the building, how many floors there are and the number of staff in the building at any one time.


These are the factors considered when deciding how many fire marshals to have:


  • There should be a minimum of one fire marshal for each floor of the building.

  • The level of the risk in the building also determines how many fire marshals there should be:

  • If the business involves shift work, all shift patterns must also be covered by the minimum amount of fire marshals required for the building size and number of people on shift.

  • Extra fire marshals may be required to cover sickness, holidays and other absences.


How many Fire Marshals for Different Levels of Risk

Low Level Risk Workplace

1 fire marshal for every 50 employees

Medium Level Risk Workplace

1 fire marshal for every 20 employees

High Level Risk Workplace

1 fire marshal for every 50 employees


An Example

If an office building over 3 floors with 60 employees in an open plan space, this is defined as a medium risk due to the flammable materials such as paper documents and cardboard boxes.


The office will require 3 fire marshals to cover 20 people each with 1 on each floor, and perhaps 2 or 3 more to cover absences.


The minimum number of fire marshals appointed should be 5.


 

woman conducting a fire drill

What Are the Responsibilities of a Fire Marshal?

 

The main responsibility of a fire marshal is to regularly assess the risks and hazards in the workplace that could cause a fire and report them to the employer.


Here are some practical ways a fire marshal should carry out their responsibilities:


Monitoring Equipment

They must ensure all the equipment, fire escape doors and fire alarms are working correctly to improve the safety of all employers and employees at work.


Checking Fire Exit Systems

Other important responsibilities include regularly checking the break glass points and the fire safety signs. The emergency exits must also be checked to ensure there have been no trip hazards put in the way of the fire escape routes.


Practice Fire Drills

Fire marshals are also required to run practice fire drills and must induct new employees to ensure all employees know what to do and where to go in the event of a fire. A fire marshal must also complete the business’ logbooks for fire safety to keep the information and safety checks up to date.


A fire marshal is employed to ensure that employers have maintained their responsibility and met the health and safety requirements to protect their workers by ensuring regular fire safety risk assessments are completed and maintained.

 

 

Fire Marshal Training

 

There are both in person and online training courses available to become a qualified fire marshal and anyone can apply. People who wish to become a fire marshal must partake in the appropriate training and pass to receive a certificate.


Having a fire marshal employed in a business will minimise the risk of fire and hazards and ensure all workers are kept safe.

The fire marshal training will include:


  • How to perform a fire safety risk assessment

  • Understand the possible risks and hazards regarding fire in a workplace

  • Understand the laws regarding fire safety

  • How to control and prevent fire risks

  • Learn how fires can start and spread in the workplace

  • How to use all fire equipment

  • How to maintain the equipment

  • How to perform a safe and efficient fire evacuation

  • How to support individuals, especially high risk workers

  • Learn the roles a fire marshal has in the workplace

Fire marshal training covers all the essentials of both theoretical and physical training required to become a fully trained fire marshal. The qualifications of completing this course will mean that you have full responsibility for maintaining fire safety in the workplace and keeping all employees safe.


 

How Long Does Fire Marshal Training Last?

 

Fire marshal training can take from 3 hours / half a day to a full day depending on the chosen course. Online courses are popular as they are able to be taken anywhere on a compatible device and upon completion, participants will also receive a qualification certificate as proof of a pass.


In person fire marshal training is also available on site at the business location or at the training course’s facility. The fire marshals will need to receive appropriate training every three years to ensure their knowledge, skills and training is kept up to date.


The fire marshal training course is suitable for a group of people learning at once or it can be taken individually. The training will ensure the required employees learn everything they need to know about fire safety and how to keep others safe in the case of a fire.

 

 

statue of law & order

Fire Safety Regulations

 

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that all businesses and buildings that are not residential homes must follow the fire safety law. This also includes houses in multiple occupation and the buildings which house a block of flats.


The regulation states that employers have a responsibility to keep employees safe by ensuring they receive adequate fire safety training and employers must also provide the correct equipment, regular risk assessments and even employ a fire marshal if required.

Employers must delegate a ‘responsible person’ “who must take such general fire precautions as will ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of any of his employees”.


The fire marshal must also regularly perform risk assessments and “where a dangerous substance is present in or on the premises, the responsible person must ensure that risk to relevant persons related to the presence of the substance is either eliminated or reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.”


Guidance from The Regulatory Reform Order 2005


In regards to training, the regulation states that “employees must be provided with adequate safety training -

(a) at the time when they are first employed; and

(b) on their being exposed to new or increased risks.”


The training must “include suitable and sufficient instruction and training on the appropriate precautions and actions to be taken by the employee in order to safeguard himself and other relevant persons on the premises;

(b) be repeated periodically where appropriate;

(c) be adapted to take account of any new or changed risks to the safety of the employees concerned;

(d) be provided in a manner appropriate to the risk identified by the risk assessment; and

(e) take place during working hours.”

 

 

What Colour is the Hi-Vis Vest for a Fire Marshal?

 

A fire marshal most commonly wears a yellow hi-vis vest with reflective tape around the torso and over both shoulders. This brightly coloured vest makes it easier for them to be seen when in the case of a fire emergency.


This hi-vis vest should be worn at all times, in case of an emergency and also when practicing fire drills so that they can easily guide the employees to safety through the nearest exit points.

 

Fire marshals are a required addition to any workforce and they must receive appropriate fire training and regularly assess the risks to prevent the risk of fires. Fire marshals ensure all employees are kept safe at work and they must keep their training up to date.

 

 

a link to a fire marshal training course

Sources


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