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How Many Fire Marshals Do I Need?

How Many Fire Marshals Do I Need?

Fires are devastating. A business could be ruined by a severe one, and that’s assuming nobody was hurt. That’s why fire marshals are so important and why businesses need specially trained individuals to prevent sparks from becoming blazes and to save people from injury. It’s also essential that you respect government guidelines, such as the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 in the UK, if you want to remain compliant. But exactly how many fire marshals are you legally required to have in your workplace under this law?

The Legal Minimums

The government has a minimum guideline of how many fire marshals your organization needs, but the mandatory number scales up with the associated risk factors. If your low-risk business has fewer than fifty employees or occupants of a facility like a warehouse, you must have at least one fire marshal. If there are fifty to a hundred occupants or employees, the minimum is two fire marshals. For every additional hundred people, you need at least one fire marshal. However, multi-level buildings need at least one fire marshal per floor. Large sites must have a fire marshal on site at each work site.

These are the minimums of how many must be present at any given time in a low-risk business. Every shift must be covered. This means that a business with 50 people per shift really needs three marshals at a minimum, one per shift. To ensure that there is always a fire marshal on the premises, you need to train 25% to 50% more people so that there is coverage when your fire warden is on vacation or out sick. When the risk factor goes up, the number of fire marshals nearly doubles or triples, depending on your business.

How to Know How Many Fire Wardens You Need

The right number of fire wardens for your business depends on several factors. The first issue is your business’ level of risk.

Businesses are low-risk if they have few combustible materials, almost no ignition or heat sources, well-maintained buildings and no high-risk people who are difficult to evacuate. High-risk businesses include those with multiple heat or ignition sources, lots of flammable materials around, many vulnerable people who need to be evacuated, and a relatively poorly maintained facility. Most factories count as having a normal fire risk, while surprisingly few businesses count as low-risk. Facilities in this category include restaurants and kitchens, industrial facilities that use a lot of heat in their normal operations, and sites that house flammable substances. If you can’t assess your risk, you can outsource that task to professionals who can do the analysis and give you recommendations to reduce your risk factors.

How to Get Fire Wardens in Your Business

A simple solution is fire warden training. Courses like those by Fire Safety Training teach staff the essentials of fire safety, their legal responsibilities when there is a fire, and the proper use of fire extinguishers. Based in London, they offer an in-house service where they come to your place of work, which helps to limit disruption and ensure that they can offer practical advice relevant to your building. Offering this training to your employees creates fire wardens.

The next level up is training people who conduct “hot work” or work with very hot equipment and processes to minimize the risk of fires starting. This training is recommended for managers and site safety officers so they can properly manage and ideally reduce the risk your business faces.

Conclusion

Your business should see the legal minimums as a reference point, but train many more fire marshals. Not only does this ensure compliance with the law, but it protects both your business and your employees.


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by Rebecca Jones // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.