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What is a fire marshal?

Fire Marshal

What is a Fire Marshal and Why are They Vital to Your Business?

Fire safety for businesses can be a complex matter. Although there are many issues of blanket regulatory compliance, every business remains unique. Meaning that each business has its own set of fire safety concerns. And that’s where the role of fire marshal can be so valuable. So, what do you need to know about this vital role?


What is a Fire Marshal and Why Does Your Business Need One?

Understanding the fire marshal role

For many people, the role of fire marshal is a hazy concept. But the reality is that your fire marshals can be the most important element of fire safety management for your business. They’ll not only take control in the event of a fire. They’ll also help to put in place and maintain the safety measures that should reduce the likelihood of that ever becoming necessary.


How does a fire marshal support the safety of a business?

The most difficult part of fire safety for any business is people. Where people are involved, even the most well-thought out and perfectly executed fire safety measures can go awry. Because people change things. Which means that if you don’t have a fire marshal to ensure that your fire safety standards are maintained, you can put your business at risk. So, what does a fire marshal do to keep your business protected?


Daily duties of a fire marshal

  • Housekeeping – When workspaces and communal areas are kept clear and clutter-free, and all heat sources are properly used and maintained, you reduce the potential for combustion and the spread of fire.
  • Emergency exits – Your emergency exits should always be accessible and able to be opened.
  • Hazardous materials – If any hazardous materials are in use within your business, they must be properly stored and maintained.
  • Smoking areas – Are they clean and uncluttered? Do you have the correct fire protection facilities in place?


Weekly duties of a fire marshal

  • Fire risk assessment – All UK businesses are required to conduct regular fire risk assessments. Many elements of which must be carried out weekly and can be managed by the fire marshal. Including:
    • Fire alarm testing
    • Break glass call points – Are all your call points intact and visible? Do you have signs to clearly show where they are?
    • Fire doors – Are they in full working order, unobstructed, and kept closed?
    • Fire extinguishers – Your fire marshal should ensure that your fire extinguishers are correctly positioned, in good working condition, serviced, and properly signed.
    • Fire safety signage – Do you have all of the right fire safety signs in place?
    • Logbook – All of your fire risk assessment activities should be recorded in your logbook.


Monthly duties of a fire marshal

  • Emergency lighting – Your emergency lighting should be tested by your fire marshal once a month. If any problems are detected, they will need to take action to ensure that they are quickly addressed.


Annual duties of a fire marshal

  • Fire drills – All businesses must perform at least one fire drill a year. Your fire marshal should be responsible for ensuring that all of your staff – and other regular site users – know how to safely exit the building.
  • PAT testing – In 2023, more workplace fires were caused by faulty electrical equipment than anything else. It’s vital that all of your electrical devices be PAT tested annually.


Periodic duties of a fire marshal

  • Fire safety training – Businesses are legally obliged to ensure that all new employees and site visitors are provided with the relevant fire safety training. All employees should also receive an annual fire safety refresher. Your fire marshal should be able to manage this.
  • Fire event responsibilities – Should a fire ever occur within your business, your fire marshal has a number of important duties to oversee. These include:
    • Raising the alarm – If your alarm system is not connected to the fire service, your fire marshal should be responsible for making the call.
    • Closing all doors – By ensuring that all doors within your building are closed, your fire marshal can help prevent the fire from spreading.
    • Supporting evacuation – Guiding site occupants to the emergency exits. Ensuring that any additional support is provided for disabled or pregnant staff members. Conducting a ‘floor sweep’ to ensure that no one is left on the floor of the building that they are responsible for – where it is safe to do so. And conducting a roll call at the fire assembly point to ensure that all staff members and visitors are accounted for.
    • Fire extinguisher deployment – Fire marshals should also know how to use a fire extinguisher and which extinguisher to use for each fire type, in case a small fire occurs that they can deal with.


How many fire marshals do you need for your business?

The number of fire marshals a business needs will be dictated by both the number of staff working on site and the size of the site. You can calculate your needs using the guide below.

How do you become a fire marshal?

Anyone can become a fire marshal, they just need the correct training. As well as a comprehensive introduction to the role, they should receive regular refresher training. At 1st Class Fire Protection, we provide bespoke fire marshal training tailored to the exact needs of your business. It can be conducted at your premises, or at our dedicated training facility. And includes hands-on experience of fire extinguisher use. Helping to ensure that your fire marshals are prepared for whatever fire events occur within your business.


Fire marshals are one of the most important elements of your business’ fire safety measures. Do you have enough trained fire marshals within your business?

1st Class Fire Protection has more than 30 years’ experience supporting the businesses of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and the surrounding areas with all of their fire safety training and fire protection needs. Get in touch to find out what we can do for your business.


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