The important role that fire wardens play in ensuring your business is prepared for a fire emergency should not be underestimated. Along with your emergency plan, fire wardens are an important risk control measure to ensure that your workplace is prepared should an emergency situation, potentially a fire, occur. Hence, businesses are advised to choose their fire wardens carefully.
Key duties of fire wardens include:
- to assist in implementing and improving effective emergency procedures in your workplace;
- to help prevent emergencies by monitoring the adequacy of the fire risk control measures;
- to raise awareness with other staff about the fire hazards that exist in your workplace;
- to instruct workers in how to respond in an emergency;
- to lead the fire drills and real evacuation procedures – they must be familiar with all escape routes and exits from their designated area;
- to ensure all workers are accounted for during an evacuation; and
- to assist all people in the workplace should an emergency occur, including assisting people with special needs, e.g. helping someone in a wheelchair to evacuate.
If the fire alarm is sounded, fire wardens have a duty to assist in the safe evacuation of workers and visitors from your workplace immediately, and to ensure that their designated area has been cleared.
During an evacuation, fire wardens need to:
- direct everyone to leave the building using all the appropriate routes and exits (and not inappropriate exits such as lifts);
- check all accessible spaces in their area, including the bathroom, to make sure everyone has evacuated – this should be done on the way out of the building so that the fire warden isn’t putting themselves at risk by re-entering the evacuated area;
- close the doors to help to isolate the fire; and
- guide everyone to the assembly area and assist in checking that everyone has arrived safely.
Fire wardens should be provided with full authority to conduct an evacuation and your workers should know that the warden has this authority.
The fire warden should also check on a regular basis that fire exits are clear at all times.