Workplaces and employers need to uphold safety at work, and they are responsible for fire safety as well. Workplaces usually appoint a fire warden to keep a check on fire safety regulations and deal with any violations that might occur, as well as uphold safety and manage safety equipment.
In this content piece we will look at the fire safety equipment fire wardens need to have in a workplace.
Fire Warden Equipment at the Workplace
Fire wardens are responsible for evacuating personnel in case of an emergency, but they are not firefighters. They receive training, handle equipment, etc., but they are still required to call the fire department when an emergency occurs.
Organizations in the US are required to have fire wardens designed for each floor of a building. Fire wardens receive training to conduct their duties, ensure regulations are followed and create fire emergency plans, and more.
The equipment they maintain is crucial for both preventing fires as well as dealing with them after the fact. While fire alarms and fire extinguishers are stationary fire safety equipment and not necessarily something a fire marshal needs to have on hand, they do count here as fire marshals might need to use them in case of an emergency. It’s important to remember that all of this equipment needs to be regularly serviced. Service intervals are best kept track of by using good fire inspection software.
The Fire Warden Essentials Kit
The contents of a fire warden kit can be extremely helpful and should consist of contents as required by the specific workplace fire safety requirements.
A basic fire warden kit, for example, would usually contain:
- A fire warden vest or waistcoat
- A few emergency light sticks
- An air horn/gas horn
- A general-purpose torch
- A high-vis bag as a container for all the aforementioned items
More premium kits can have additional items, such as:
- A megaphone
- High-vis armbands
- Emergency whistles
- High-vis caps/visors
High-Visibility Neon Vests
Neon vests ensure that fire wardens can be seen in low-visibility areas and situations. All these vests should be compliant with the EN ISO 20471:2013 high-visibility clothing standard, which ensures that anyone working near traffic or similar busy areas is visible in both the day and night time.
The fluorescent yellow hi-vis vests need to be maintained so that visibility is not impacted. They come in various classes as well, which go from Class 1 for the lowest visibility, to Class 3 for the highest.
Emergency Lighting and Safety Lights
Torches are large, bulky, and can potentially fail. In a low-light situation where you might need your hands to be free, a safety light stick can provide low to high-intensity light in such situations. These ‘glowsticks’ are designed to work at 72 degrees Fahrenheit (or about 22 degrees Celsius) and can burn for 5-12 hours depending on their intensity.
A fire warden needs to keep these on hand and use them in addition to hi-vis vests to ensure maximum visibility in low-light conditions or through thick smoke.
Megaphones and Public Address (PA) Systems
Fire wardens can operate in busy areas, or even in buildings where it can be difficult to have their voices heard in an emergency. In the event of a fire, while everyone is supposed to be calm, there can be some likely panic, and fire wardens need to be able to address everyone and be heard.
Fire alarm systems, PA systems, and megaphones can help with that. Moreover, megaphones should be battery-powered and contain at least one additional backup megaphone in case one fails.
There also need to be manual fire alarm pull stations in addition to automatic systems, and they should be tested bi-annually following the NFPA regulations. While these pull stations are stationary equipment, they are an important part of alarm systems and need a mention.
These are not found in most public buildings but can be found in commercial holdings or industrial complexes. An axe helps firefighters get to a fire or to rescue someone, or even help someone trapped inside escape by smashing any obstacles with the fire axe.
Portable Fire Extinguishers
While fire extinguishers need to be situated near any ignition sources and are stationary fire-safety equipment, portable extinguishers can be carried in person and even be part of a fire warden kit. They come in various classes depending on the type of flammable material and ignition source and fire wardens need to maintain them according to their workplace use case.
While these small extinguishers can help with smaller fires, such as a kitchen fire, a fire warden should not consider using them on any larger fires and should let the fire department and relevant emergency services handle it. Fire blankets offer a similar use-case of only being for certain situations.
Upholding Fire Safety
Workplaces need a fire warden for each floor of a building and depending on the size of the floors and the type of work, they might need more than that as well. To ensure that training is available at all times, organizations need to provide additional fire warden training to keep their workers and workplaces safe and free from such emergencies. A strong focus on safety management is crucial for effective fire prevention and response in the workplace.