Fire Marshal Duties & Responsibilities
While everyone in a workplace should be actively doing their utmost to avoid creating fires or hazards, there should always be a designated fire marshal for your office or warehouse space.
The number of fire marshals – sometimes known as fire wardens – depends on the size of the business and the building, but even with a small office, it’s worth having several trained fire marshals so that there is enough cover in the event of holidays and absences.
If you’re unsure what a fire marshal is or what they’re responsible for, we’ve created this handy overview for you.
What is a fire marshal?
A fire marshal, in the simplest terms, is a nominated person or persons within a business responsible for preventing fires and also reacting in the event of an emergency.
How a business chooses these marshals will depend on the needs of that business. There’s no specific person who can take on this role; it could be a director, a secretary, a member of the IT team or a warehouse operative.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 stipulates that the responsible person for your business should ensure there are competent individuals to deal with things such as fire fighting, fire detection, building evacuation and other elements to assist with fire safety within the building. Therefore, to help your business meet legal obligations, it’s a good idea to nominate fire marshals and have them trained.
What are fire marshal duties?
A fire marshal is not just responsible for evacuating people from the building (though this is a key element of their role), so to help you better understand the full gamut of a fire marshal’s responsibilities, we’ve categorised them into the daily, routine elements and the more serious, emergency elements:
Routine fire marshal duties
These are the elements of the role which can be performed day-to-day, as and when they are needed:
- Arranging regular fire drills (at least once a year)
- Checking fire exits and evacuation routes for obstructions
- Checking fire extinguishers are serviced, ensuring they are not moved
- Ensuring PAT testing is kept up to date
- Fire alarm checks – weekly
- Assigning different fire assembly points to different marshals
- Ensuring safe emergency exit routes are in place for disabled staff and guests
- Ensuring a marshal is designated to help disabled staff and guests evacuate safely
- Carry out fire safety inductions for new starters – including evacuation plans
- Ensuring a signing in and out policy is upheld for visitors as well as staff
Emergency fire marshal duties
These are the elements of the role which are required only in an emergency situation:
- In the event of a fire or a drill, fire marshals should be wearing high-vis vests
- Guiding staff and guests to nearest fire exit points
- Taking of a roll call at the fire assembly point, working with other marshals to identify – usually via the signing in and out system – who is present and who may be missing
- Alert the emergency services if anyone is not accounted for on the roll call
It should be noted that while a fire marshal should be trained in the use of the appropriate fire extinguishers, it is not their responsibility to tackle a blaze. If a fire is small enough that it can be tackled by a marshal, it should be, but if there is any doubt, the building should be evacuated and the emergency services called as swiftly as possible.
What is a fire marshal not in charge of?
With such a range of duties, it can be difficult to know where to draw the line, but there are lots of things a fire marshal is not responsible for.
Your fire marshal is not responsible for making any area of your building safe should a fire break out, nor are they responsible for the locking of any fireproof safes or filing cabinets. Most importantly of all though, a fire marshal is not responsible for conducting fire risk assessments. This task falls to the responsible person in your business and requires a certain amount of knowledge. While this might seem daunting, there are expert professionals who can carry this out on your behalf.
At Surrey Tech Services Ltd, we provide fire risk assessments for businesses across London and the Home Counties – including Maidenhead, Guildford and Slough. We bring expert fire safety knowledge to every fire risk assessment we carry out, helping you protect lives and assets while also meeting your legal obligations.