Fire can occur in any company at any time and the duties of a responsible fire marshal can be vital. Their role is to assess risks which could lead to a blaze starting and take appropriate action if one does; in worst case scenarios, the actions of the marshal can be the difference between life and death. If you are thinking about becoming a fire marshal for your company, you must fully understand your duties and work within the framework provided by the organisation. The key requirements of a marshal are to:
- identify and report risks
- assess potential hazards
- fight fire (only in its early stages)
- safely evacuate colleagues
- administer first aid
Where there are visitors, the marshal must ensure that they have been made aware of all the fire exit locations and briefed on the evacuation procedure. The marshal is also responsible for ensuring that any contractors have the correct work permits. Key to being a good fire marshal is carrying out regular checks around the company’s premises. These include making sure no items obstruct exits and that all routes out of the building are suitable for people who have disabilities. Any smoking areas should be kept clear, with all receptacles removed on a regular basis.
Testing alarms and other checks
The marshal should regularly test alarms (at least once a week) to ensure that they work correctly. A full fire drill which involves evacuation should be carried out at least once every 12 months. A marshal must also know about the different types of fire extinguishers and in what circumstances they are to be used. During checks they must also ensure that blankets, first aid kits and hose reels are in good order and located where they should be. Likewise, they must make sure that fire escape signs are properly located and easily identifiable.
How many marshals does a company need?
The number of fire marshals needed in a company depends on its size and the amount of people it employs. In some firms, such as those operating from a single office, it is perfectly acceptable to have just one person trained as a fire marshal. However, in larger organisations there can sometimes be more than a dozen. An easy way to find out how many your company should have is by using the calculator provided by the St John Ambulance Service. All you need to do is enter how many shifts your business operates and how many people work on each before adding the number of fire assembly points you have, and the tool will do the rest. Say, for example, you have one shift with 20 people working and one assembly point, you would be required to have three marshals. One to cover the work area, one to man the assembly area and one to provide cover in the event that another marshal is off ill or on holiday.
Fire is a very serious issue and can be life threatening. Regulations from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) clearly state that all employers have a legal responsibility to make sure that their workplace has a sufficient number of trained marshals and that fire safety cover is provided at all times. Here at Protect & Detect, we offer a comprehensive fire safety service including:
- thorough fire risk assessments
- supply, installation and maintenance of fire detection systems
- fire extinguisher maintenance
We are committed to making sure your commercial premises is as safe as possible from the threat of fire. Our highly trained and experienced staff work in line with all current safety regulations so you can enjoy peace of mind that your business is fulfilling its legal obligations. Simply get in touch with our expert team today for further information.