The Difference Between a Fire Warden and a Fire Marshal

Fire Marshal or Fire Warden – What’s the difference?

It may sound a strange question, but lots of people are confused by this topic. We were working for a customer recently who had Fire Wardens but was unsure as to whether then needed a Fire Marshal as well.  In fact they didn't really know the difference between the two and asked us to help them work it all out.

The answer is that it depends on your premises.

Let’s for a minute forget the warden / marshal labels and look at your fire safety requirements from a practical point of view.

If you have a small site

If you have a small site then all you need is to ensure that the premises get evacuated and searched in a timely fashion. The search can be done by someone in the role of 'Deputy' to the Fire Safety Manager. 

The duties of the 'Deputy' are quite simple. They need to sweep their predefined area and clear people from the premises whilst not putting themselves at greater risk. Whether this person is called a Fire Warden or a Fire Marshal is immaterial , they both carry out the same role.

If you have a more complex site with multiple fire assembly points

At a more complex site, with multiple fire assembly points, the Fire Safety Manager may find it difficult to account for all of his/her deputies. This is when the 'Deputy' role is better split up into two defined roles the Fire Warden and the Fire Marshal.

Firstly, the premises need to be evacuated. The person most at risk in the evacuation process is the one searching and clearing the premises, as they will be the last person out. This is the role of the Fire Warden.

Whilst the premises are being evacuated, The Fire Marshal will go directly to their assembly point and manage the evacuation from outside the building. The Fire Marshal is responsible for ensuring that everyone who exits the building is accounted for (and doesn't disappear to the pub, or even worse, re-enter the building). But crucially, the Fire Marshal also makes sure that the Fire Warden(s) are accounted for after completing their search.