Critical Roles & Chief Fire Warden

Ken Walker

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In many organizations within Australia, chief fire wardens are appointed to assist in emergencies by providing leadership to the general fire wardens. The role of the chief warden involves proactive duties to prevent fires and reactive duties to respond to emergency situations.

Furthermore, larger organizations may appoint multiple fire wardens for different departments or areas. This necessitates the appointment of a chief warden who provides command and control of the fire wardens. He/she also has responsibility for the management of preparedness and recovery activities. 

Command and control used by chief wardens

On a daily basis, the role of a chief warden involves organizing proactive duties to prevent emergencies.   And to prepare fire wardens and occupants of a building for emergency situations.

One of the primary roles is for them to make themselves available daily or to arrange suitable cover. Thus, ensuring that a fire warden is always present when the building is occupied. 

Incidentally, it is the responsibility of the chief warden to make sure. Fire wardens and occupants of the building are informed. Thus, have relevant information relating to the fire alarm system, the emergency warning system, and all emergency procedures.

Chief wardens planning for emergencies

Similarly, all occupants of a building must have a current list of fire wardens, where they are located and contact details. It is the responsibility of the chief warden to make sure this information is compiled and distributed as per Australian Standard 3745-2010. 

With the assistance from Health and Safety Reps in the workplace. The chief will install or have installed, evacuation plans for each floor or zone. It is important that this information is displayed prominently in a place where everyone can easily see the information. 

 

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Training for emergencies

In addition, a further role of the chief warden is the training programs for wardens. This training should cover all duties of the fire warden so that they can fulfil both proactive and reactive duties as required. 

The training should include an explanation of administrative duties associated with the role. Along with, practical actions that fire wardens need to take in the event of an emergency.

In emergency situations, a chief has additional duties. From the time an emergency alarm goes off, they must respond to the situation immediately. Accordingly, they must then determine the nature of the emergency. And declare the emergency to the rest of the building where ever possible. 

Good communication is the key

The chief warden will ensure that the correct emergency services have been notified. And also notify the other fire wardens of the situation.  The chief warden will determine, which emergency procedures to implement and to assume control of the occupants of the building. This may involve initiating evacuation procedures.

The chief warden will uphold their position as the lead person in charge of the emergency until the emergency services arrive. The chief will brief the emergency services regarding the cause of the emergency and the procedures implemented so far.

At that point, the senior fire officer or emergency worker will take over the responsibility for the situation. However, the senior fire officer may assign duties to the chief warden. This ensures the continued safety of those present. 

 

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Taking the fire wardens duty seriously

While these are the duties of a chief. A chief fire warden will also undertake many of the duties of the regular fire wardens as part of their role. One element of the fire warden’s proactive duties. Is, to regularly check all fire exits, fire extinguishers, and break glass call points. The chief, then checks that general housekeeping is maintained in an adequate way. Hence, reducing the risk of fires, ensures that smoking areas are patrolled effectively.

Taking on special responsibilities

There are also some industry-specific duties. These may not apply to all businesses or to the role of every chief warden. For example, if there are flammable, or hazardous substances in the workplace. Then, it is the fire warden’s responsibility to ensure that these are safely and properly controlled. 

Other duties of fire wardens at all levels in Australia may include electrical safety checks.  Then, hot works management, emergency lighting testing, completing fire risk assessments and compliance documentation and arranging fire drills. 

In conclusion, the chief warden must provide not only command and control in an emergency. But leadership and proactive training for all those within the emergency control organisation.

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