Fires in the workplace are a frequent occurrence in the UK, and can have a devastating impact on a business. It is crucial that all businesses take fire safety seriously in order to prevent unnecessary damages, injuries and fatalities.
Having nominated fire marshals among its staff is a key fire safety measure, and it helps businesses to meet the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. In this article, we will look at how to calculate the number of fire marshals a business requires, and the factors that influence this.
A fire marshal has several responsibilities, the main one of which is to assist with emergency evacuations to ensure that they are carried out safely. This may involve raising the alarm in the event of a fire, and guiding people towards the designated assembly points.
They also have several day-to-day responsibilities, including checking fire safety measures, such as fire doors, fire safety signs, emergency lighting, and fire extinguishers, to ensure that they are in working order, and assisting with fire drills.
For more information on the role and responsibilities of a fire marshal, click here to view our dedicated article on the topic.
The first thing to consider when calculating how many fire marshals a business requires is the level of risk that a workplace poses. This should already have been determined as part of the fire risk assessment process.
There are three levels of fire risk: low, medium and high.
Workplaces with a low fire risk are those with:
It is important to note that only a small number of workplaces, such as small shops and offices, are likely to fall under this category.
Workplaces with a medium fire risk are those with:
Most workplaces will fall under this category.
Workplaces with a high fire risk are those with:
The workplaces that fall under this category are typically those that deal with fire and flammable materials (such as restaurants), or those that house vulnerable people (such as hospitals and care homes).
Alongside the level of risk that a workplace poses, there are several additional factors that should be considered when determining the number of fire marshals a business requires. These include:
Let's look at an example workplace to explore how to calculate the number of fire wardens/marshals a business requires: a small office over 2 floors. This office employs 40 people, one of whom is hard of hearing.
The level of risk posed by this workplace is medium. This is because there are highly flammable materials present such as cardboard boxes and paper documentation, but there are very few sources of heat that could ignite a fire, as there is only a small staff kitchen on the ground floor. The office also has a large amount of open space, which makes searches and evacuations easier, and a clear emergency evacuation plan.
In this example, the office should appoint at least five fire marshals:
The specific number of fire marshals that a workplace requires will vary depending on a range of factors including, but not limited to, those discussed in this article. For complex workplaces, or those in which there is any doubt about the number of fire marshals required, we recommend contacting the local fire and rescue service for further advice.
At Commodious, we offer two fire safety awareness training courses: one designed for all staff, and one specifically for fire marshals. These courses are a great way of ensuring that a workforce is properly trained in fire safety and understands how to act in the event of an emergency. For more information on these courses, use the links below: