How Many Fire Wardens Are Needed in an Office?

Posted in Fire Wardens on 3 October 2019

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As a business owner, landlord or manager, fire safety is a part of your job that shouldn’t be overlooked. In the case of offices, not only must a workforce of staff be protected, but also any visitors. As the responsible person you will need some help devising and implementing any fire strategies – this comes in the form of fire wardens, also known as fire marshals, who are nominated or self-nominated members of your staff. This article will explore your responsibilities in regards to fire wardens so you don’t get caught out. 

Is it a legal requirement to have a fire warden? 

Yes, it is a legal requirement for every workplace to have a designated fire warden. The number of fire wardens needed for an individual workplace depends on quite a few factors, which we will now explore. 

What’s the minimum number of fire wardens an office needs? 

The minimum number of fire wardens needed for an office depends on multiple factors, and so the number will be different for every single workplace. So, how can you establish how many your workplace needs? Let’s look at this question in more detail.  

How can I calculate how many fire wardens I need? 

Calculating how many fire wardens a workplace needs must take into account several factors. 

  • Firstly, you must decide whether your business is high, medium or low risk – there is no clear way to define this yourself without a professional fire risk assessment. This assessment will examine several characteristics of your office, including presence of combustible materials, any obvious sources of heat, an unusual office layout, and considering the number of members of high-risk groups e.g. those with disabilities, and many more factors. Once your workplace is given a risk status, this should give further guidance on how many wardens to nominate. 
  • Next, you will need to consider how many staff members there are, and whether they are split across several floors, sites or areas. For example, a low risk workplace with fewer than 50 members of staff could potentially cope with one fire marshal – however, if these staff members are split across three floors, for example, then three wardens would be more advisable. A high risk workplace may need more fire wardens, so one for every 15 members of staff. 
  • Finally, you must consider shift patterns, if that is relevant to your workplace. Every single shift must be covered by an adequate number of wardens. The same goes for staff on leave. When approving holiday days, ensure that there is still the legal number of fire wardens on call for each working day. 

What are the responsibilities of fire wardens? 

Fire warden duties can spell the difference between life or death, and as such, duties should be performed thoroughly and with sincerity.

Here is a fire warden checklist of responsibilities, though this is not necessarily complete and you should always consult with your individual workplace: 

  • Conducting fire drills for the workplace, and reviewing and acting on the results 
  • Making sure that all fire equipment is properly maintained and fully functional 
  • Performing agreed evacuation procedures including, but not limited to, accounting for all workers with  headcounts/registers, checking toilets, closing fire doors and assisting those with disabilities to evacuate 
  • Promoting workplace awareness of fire safety procedures and practices 
  • Conducting fire risk assessments 
  • Helping to create a fire evacuation plan, and updating it in light of any new information, regulations or eventualities 
  • Taking note of any office changes, such as staff numbers or office layout, and updating any emergency fire plans in accordance with this 

The duties will differ in every workplace, especially if there are many fire wardens – in this case, you may be assigned your own specific duties. Please check with your workplace for a full and comprehensive list of duties relevant to your business. 

For fully professional fire warden training for your employees, Fire Action can help. As the region’s go-to fire safety specialists, we teach your nominees vital aspects of fire safety in the workplace – ensuring that your staff are fully prepared, trained and competent to tackle fire emergencies. Please contact us to find out how we can help your business in Sidcup, Bromley and Kent. 

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