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How many people have been in a real emergency fire situation? The answer, thankfully, is not that many of us, unless we are employed within the fire service. How would we cope in such a situation? Would we crumble and panic, or would we rise to the occasion, like the characters in disaster movies such as the Towering Inferno. The reality is that many of the population will never actually find out what they would do, because fire, although deadly dangerous, is not that frequent an occurrence. But it is the very fact that the majority will never experience it that makes the effect of fire so calamitous. So how do we prepare ourselves to react positively in an emergency situation?

Our first line of defence should always be to prepare ourselves, and the people who work with and for us. We can achieve this by training our staff professionally, not only as a one off, but repeatedly, so that a positive reaction becomes second nature.

Fire Wardens are essential to our evacuation plan and its success. They are the people who will organise others to leave the building in a safe speedy manner, guiding and reassuring those who are not sure of what to do, providing assistance to those unable to assist themselves. They will ensure that their area of responsibility is cleared of staff and visitors, shutting windows and closing fire doors, before leaving themselves to then liaise with the fire service once they arrive at the scene. Remember, it is the legal duty and obligation of building owners and occupiers to ensure the safe evacuation of people from the premises, not the Fire Service

But their importance lies not only at the time of the incident. A properly trained Fire Warden takes responsibility for their area of work, ensuring that fire escape routes are kept clear, fire doors are unobstructed, undamaged and work correctly, fire-fighting equipment is in place and in good working order, and ensuring that staff in that area are familiar with the evacuation procedure. They ensure that where defects are identified, they are correctly reported and actioned upon. They take responsibility for the safety of all those who enter their area of work. It is an extremely important role, one that should not be taken lightly, and it is imperative that they receive assistance from others, and support from management. Investment in fire protection, including the provision of professional training, is vital to the success of the Fire Warden.

A correctly prepared Evacuation Plan should allow for Fire Wardens throughout the building, the number being determined by the size of the premises, and the risks within. We should appoint Fire Wardens from those staff who are based within the building the majority of the time, but don’t forget to appoint a deputy, for when the Fire Warden is absent on holiday or on sick leave.

Periodic evacuation practices should be carried out and recorded, with any issues documented and addressed accordingly. This will help make sure in the real event of an emergency evacuation the plan will work and all involved will be safe.

We hope that Fire Wardens will not be utilised, but, if they are, we hope that they will be professional and effective. Therefore, we need to appreciate their importance. Fire Wardens are essential.

Visit the Fire Safety Training area of our website information on our fire warden training courses.

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