Fire safety is a vital component of workplace safety. As a fire safety awareness course provider, we’re often asked questions on the procedures and knowledge involved in preventing and dealing with fires at work. For example,“how often should a fire drill be performed?” and “how many fire marshals do I need?”. As a result, we’ve put together this blog post to cover a number of the basics – but would like to stress that nothing replaces a comprehensive training course with a trusted provider.
How often should a fire drill be performed at work?
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, current UK fire alarm regulations state that all business premises must have “an appropriate fire detection system” in place. This might sound quite vague, therefore, we recommend that you ensure your alarm will easily detect an outbreak of fire, and warn all occupants quickly, whilst adhering to the appropriate standards.
Businesses should aim to carry out a minimum of two fire drills per year and record the results. Following the drills, it’s important to deal with any issues that could put anyone in danger in the event of a real fire.
Some businesses may need to undertake more than two fire drills per year, however, this should be set out in the company’s risk assessment. A crucial item to remember is that companies employing shift workers must ensure that workers from all shift patterns are present for at least one fire drill per year.
How many fire marshals do I need?
Firstly, to determine the appropriate number of fire marshals (or fire wardens) required, it’s important to understand your company’s risk (are you a low risk, normal risk, or high risk business? Your company should have a Fire Risk Assessment on its premises to help you make an informed decision. To determine risk, consider the following:
- Hazards – what is the likelihood that a fire will occur?
- Severity – how damaging could a fire be if it did occur?
For low risk businesses we suggest appointing one marshal in each work area, per shift, per 50 employees. You should also make sure that there is always someone appointed to cover absences.
Normal risk businesses should look to appoint one fire marshal per area, per shift, per 20 employees. hen increasing by one marshal for every additional 50-75 employees. Again, you should make sure there are enough fire marshals to cover any absences.
High risk businesses would benefit from having one fire marshal per area, per shift, per 15 employees. Then, increasing by one for every extra 25-50 employees.
What are the responsibilities of a fire marshal?
When considering the role of a fire marshal, perhaps you will be picturing a staff member escorting others out of a building in the event of a fire or fire drill. However, this is just a small part of their job. Significantly, a fire marshal’s core duty is to actually prevent fires by carrying out a series of checks on a regular basis. Responsibilities to consider include:
- Emergency Exits – these should be marked and obstruction free at all times.
- Fire Extinguishers – are they clearly marked, suitable for your business, and have they been serviced?
- Fire Doors – these should be kept closed and in good working order.
- Break Glass Call Points – are these visible and indicated by signs?
- Testing Your Fire Alarm – ideally this should be done weekly.
- General Housekeeping – are any combustible materials away from sources of heat?
- Owning a Fire Risk Assessment – log and deliver the recommendations to help keep employees safe, along with informing everyone of standard procedure in the event of an emergency.
The above are just some of the common queries that arise in regards to fire safety at work, however, fire safety is a vast topic and its importance should not be underestimated.
Direct Safety Solutions offers fire risk assessments for your premises carried out by our trained and competent assessors. Our assessments are thorough, easy to understand and contain detailed floor plans.
To find out more, fill out our contact form and one of our experts will get back to you to discuss your health and safety requirements.