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How many fire marshals does my business need?

How many fire wardens does my business need

As a business owner, you may already know the importance of having fire marshals. But what many people don’t realise is that the vast majority of businesses will require more than one fire marshal. And that the number of fire marshals you need will depend upon the size of your business, the lay out of your business, your working hours, and the number of people you have working on site. So, how many fire marshals does your business need, and why?


Understanding How Many Fire Marshals Your Business Needs


What is a fire marshal?

So, before we go any further, we should really start with the basics. A fire marshal – also known as fire warden – is a responsible person appointed by a business to manage fire safety. They are in charge of a number of key tasks relating to fire safety within your business. Including:

  • Daily duties, such as monitoring housekeeping to ensure that no fire hazards are present, and that fire doors remain unobstructed.
  • Weekly duties, such as conducting fire risk assessments, fire alarm testing, and fire extinguisher checking.
  • Monthly duties, such as emergency light testing.
  • Annual duties, such as PAT testing organisation and fire drills.
  • Periodic duties, such as delivering fire safety training to new employees.
  • And emergency duties, such as managing the safe evacuation of the building in the event of a fire.


Why do you need fire marshals?

The first reason that businesses need fire marshals is a matter of compliance. In order to meet the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006, you need to have the requisite number of designated fire marshals. But on a more practical level, well-trained fire marshals have the knowledge to help ensure the best possible result from any fire-related event within your business. Time matters when a fire breaks out. And people panic. Having a person – or persons – who can keep their head and understand exactly what to do in the face of a fire can save lives.

If you have a person who knows how to properly use a fire extinguisher, you may be able to neutralise a fire before the emergency services are required. If the fire escalates, having someone who knows how to safely manage an evacuation, can keep your customers and employees safe. And when you have a responsible person monitoring your fire safety equipment, getting it serviced, and testing it regularly, you can be certain that it’s ready and working if you ever need it.


How many fire marshals does your business need?

Now, this is the trickier part. And there is no one single answer. Working out how many fire marshals you need has to be done on a business by business basis. And it depends on a whole range of criteria, which you can see in the chart below.

fire marshals per employees

As a rough guide, here are some example scenarios.


Small businesses

if you operate a small business (20 staff or less), one fire marshal my be enough. However, as you also have to factor in holidays, sick days, and ensuring that every shift is covered, in most cases, you will do well to have two fully trained fire marshals.


Medium-sized businesses

For businesses with 20-75 employees, the requirement is that you have at least two trained fire marshals. If your business operates over a larger site, covering two or more floors or two or more distinct working areas, you need to allocate an additional fire marshal for each space. And in most cases, it’s a good idea to increase that number by a quarter – or even half – to cover absences. So, if you work two shifts with up to 75 employees, covering two sites, your business would need to have at least nine fire marshals.


Larger businesses

Working out the right number of fire marshals is the most complex for larger businesses. Once you pass 75 employees, you need to train another fire marshal for every additional 75 employees. And again, you have to take into account shift patterns, site size, and holidays. So, you would need five fire marshals for a business that employs 300 people. However, if those 300 people work across three different shifts, you’d need to double that number to 10. If your teams work across two floors, you have to ensure that each floor is covered for every shift, so your fire warden requirements would increase further.

The key to ensuring that your business has the right number of fire marshals is to make sure that every floor of your building is covered by a fire marshal through every shift that is worked. Then to add in a couple of extra fire marshals to cover employee absences.


Additional fire marshal considerations

While the above provides a good guide, it’s important to note that the higher a business’s risk, the more fire marshals will be required. If your business has a high-risk working environment where flammable substances or ignition equipment are used, you may need to appoint one fire marshal for every 15 employees.

Equally, if you have high-risk individuals on site, perhaps employees with disabilities, or in a care home where there are high numbers of vulnerable residents, you will need to increase your fire marshal numbers accordingly.


Fire marshals should be an integral part of your business. Their role is vital in keeping your employees, customers, and visitors safe. But to be truly effective, they must be fully trained. And you must have the right number of fire marshals on site to suit your business’ needs.


1st Class Fire Protection has been providing hands-on professional, customised fire marshal training to the businesses of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire for more than 25 years. Find out how our friendly team of experts could help your fire marshals and your business.




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