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Why your business needs a fire marshal

17 April 2019

The devastating fire at the iconic Notre-Dame in Paris this week is a dreadful reminder that disasters of this kind can strike at anytime and anywhere, no matter how prestigious the building in question.

This may have forced you to think about your own business and how you can better protect its workers from an incident involving fire.

The first question to ask is, do we have enough fire marshals? If not, you’re lacking personnel who will make a significant contribution to fire safety in your business.

There are primarily two responsibilities for fire marshals:

1. Fire prevention

It goes without saying that fire prevention should be a safety focus for any business, and fire marshals play a key role in minimising the chances of fires breaking out.

With proper training, they’ll know the hazards to look out for and which fire-fighting and safety equipment needs to be in place (and in good order) throughout the building.

For instance, when was the last time your fire extinguishers were serviced? More importantly, does anyone have quick access to or knowledge of that all-important date?

Fire marshals are also tasked with helping to identify and dealing with any potential fire risks, checking and testing fire alarms and emergency lighting, while ensuring that any fire signage is placed correctly and in good condition. They will also assist in practising fire drills and advising other employees on fire safety matters

2. Safe evacuation

If the worst happens and a fire breaks out in your business, the fire marshal will be the person responsible for evacuating everyone safely.

This is a vital job, not least because it’s common for people to panic when such an incident takes place. Having the cool, knowledgeable head of a fire marshal on hand during that time will make the evacuation far safer and ensure on one is left unaccounted for.

Does my business need to have a fire marshal?

In England, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 includes several legal obligations your business will have to meet, and fire marshals will help you do so.

You have a responsibility as a business in this country to nominate the right number of competent people within the company who can assist with everything related to fire safety.

Technically, you don’t need a fire marshal to meet these obligations, but you are legally required to have one or more competent persons to assist in undertaking preventive and protective measures. Therefore, businesses opt for fire marshals; it’s by far the most sensible and tried-and-tested route.

The number of fire marshals you need will depend on the results of your fire risk assessment, bearing in mind such factors as the size of the building and its number of floors, any mobility issues that might exist among staff and holiday or absence cover.

Training fire marshals

Want some good news? You can train fire marshals yourself, in-house, providing you opt for a train the trainer course that equips specific people within the organisation with the skills required for doing so.

No one wants to see their business burn to the ground, but more importantly, no business should inadvertently put its staff at risk from injury due to fire. A properly-trained fire marshal will give you ultimate peace of mind.

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