Every property owner in the UK has a legal obligation to ensure that their property meets the fire safety regulations set out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This legislation outlines the precautionary steps that should be taken to ensure that the residents of a building stay safe in case of a fire outbreak.

To fully comply with the fire regulations, there are certain steps that you should take, such as carrying out a fire risk assessment, implementing fire safety protocols, as well training on how building occupants should react in case of a fire.

A fire outbreak often leads to a lot of chaos and confusion. While some people scamper for safety, you will often find others rushing to save their valuables.

In the confusion that arises in the wake of a fire, the people in your building may not remember the fire safety protocols that should be followed, such as following an evacuation plan. When procedures aren’t followed, firefighting efforts can become more arduous, not to mention that the safe evacuation of people in the burning building may be further compromised.

To ensure that fire safety regulations and safety protocols are followed in the event of a fire, the law stipulates that as a property owner or building manager, you should have a designated fire marshal or warden in your building.

What is a Fire Marshal?

Fire MarshalA fire marshal is primarily responsible for the identification of potential fire hazards in a building. The marshal is usually identified and appointed by the ‘Responsible Person’ – The individual in charge of the overall safety of people in a building.

As the proprietor of a business or business manager, you are the ‘responsible person’ for fire safety compliance in your workplace.

After identifying potential fire risks in the workplace, a fire marshal has a duty to inform the business owner of the risks to institute the necessary fire safety protocols.

A fire marshal also has the responsibility of ensuring that all the people in a building leave a building quickly and safely when a fire occurs. Further, the marshal also has a duty that the area around the burning building is safe.

What is a Fire Warden?

A fire warden ensures that there are no people left inside a building once an evacuation has been carried out. The fire warden should carry out a headcount to ensure that everyone is accounted for.

The warden is responsible for ensuring that no one approaches the evacuated building until it has been declared safe by the fire and rescue. Additionally, they should also take charge of organising and conducting fire drills.

What is the Difference Between a Marshal and Warden?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 does not clarify the roles of a fire marshal and fire warden. However, the law requires that you assign at least one individual in your workplace or building a marshal or warden’s duty. The appointment of either or both of these is usually left to the ‘responsible person’ discretion.

As an employer, you can either choose to have a fire warden or fire marshal at your workplace. If you only assign one, a fire warden, they will assume all the roles that a marshal should also handle. If you hire both a marshal and warden, then you will be the one to assign them the roles that they should play to ensure that your property is fully compliant with fire safety regulations.

What Are the Roles of a Fire Marshal?

Fire in BuildingThe roles of a fire marshal can be broadly classified into two categories: day-to-day roles and responsibilities in case of an emergency.

Responsibilities of a Fire Marshal on a Daily Basis

  • Ensuring that all evacuation routes to be used in case of fire remain unobstructed
  • Carrying out routine housekeeping to get rid of materials that pose the risk of a fire, such as rubbish
  • Checking to see that hazardous/flammable materials are properly stored
  • Making sure that fire safety signs are properly placed
  • Ensuring that emergency evacuation signs are functioning properly
  • Ensuring that all firefighting equipment is properly stored and regularly serviced
  • Checking to see that fire detection equipment and fire alarms are functioning optimally every week
  • Nominating deputies who will help ascertain that the building is fully compliant with fire safety regulations
  • Mapping evacuation routes to be used in case of a fire
  • Determining fire assembly points
  • Arranging and conducting fire drills
  • Training new employees on the fire safety protocols to be followed in the event of a fire
  • Ensuring that electrical connections are tested for compliance with fire safety regulations
  • Maintaining records on any fire safety activities carried out in the building

Responsibilities of a Fire Marshal in a Fire Emergency

  • Raising the alarm when a fire starts
  • Ensuring that fire doors and doors to other fireproof spaces are closed
  • Ensuring that people who have vulnerabilities are assisted in evacuating in case of a fire safely
  • Carrying out a roll call to ensure every person has been evacuated when a fire starts
  • Liaising with emergency response personnel who respond at the scene of the fire
  • Using firefighting gear to curb the spread of the fire if it is safe to do so

What Does Fire Marshal Training Entail?

Any individual who occupies a fire marshal position should receive training on the different types of fire hazards, including how to respond in case of a fire, how to use different types of firefighting equipment, the roles of a marshal, and the current fire safety regulations. During the training, you can expect to undertake theory classes as well as practical guides.

The duration of a fire marshal course can vary depending on the extent of the areas to be covered. Trained professionals or experienced firefighters should offer the training.

After completing the fire marshal training, you should receive a certificate that shows you have the requisite training to handle fire marshal duties. This certificate should be renewed at least every three years.

Topics Covered During Fire Marshal Training

If you are looking to become a designated fire marshal, your training course will cover a wide range of topics, including (but not limited to):

  • Arson
  • Fire statistics
  • Current fire safety regulations
  • How fires spread
  • The main causes of fire and the fire safety precautions that should be implemented
  • The different types of fire detection and warning systems
  • The different types of firefighting equipment
  • How to operate firefighting equipment
  • How to identify the best evacuation routes
  • The roles and duties of a marshal