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14 February 2016

Do I need to have a trained fire warden?

In the event of a fire or safety hazard, safety protocols must be maintained to reduce the chances of workplace incidents and injuries. Fire wardens are key players in ensuring a workplace is prepared for a fire emergency; helping control risks that can affect the well being of staff members.

Playing such a pivotal role in the safety of the workplace, how critical is it that training is provided? According to Safe Work Australia, no mandatory training requirements for fire wardens exist in the WHS legislation. It is however necessary to prepare an emergency plan in compliance with Regulation 43 of the legislation[1], where the effectiveness of the implementation will depend largely on the fire warden's training. Employers, or other persons conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) essentially have a duty of care to ensure the plan is maintained in the event of an emergency, with all staff members being aware of emergency protocols.

As emergency plans may vary due to workplace circumstances, to numbers and composition of staff, and to the nature and hazards present at work; fire wardens should be entitled to training that is adequate for such measures. For instance, large-scale organisations with high-rise buildings may be considerably more difficult to employ evacuation procedures due to the potential of crowding in stairwells or the suspension of lift use as opposed to smaller organisations where this may not happen.

Regular evacuation drills and testing would be highly beneficial in avoiding complications in the event of an emergency.