When we think of an emergency situation in large buildings, the fire warden duties may come to mind. Notably many workers exposed to emergencies, often have positive experiences involving wardens.
At STG Fire Safety Training we provide fire warden training to businesses because we are passionate about helping prepare anyone and everyone for emergencies. Read on an learn more about emergency management and the Emergency Control Organisation.
Let’s first look at the fire warden duties and how they acquire the required skill level and ultimately become proficient.
1. A view of a fire warden duties from the fire ground
As a career fire officer for many years (now retired). It was evident, during incident response, that every now and then, something may have been lacking in some charged with fire warden responsibilities. On further analysis and thought, we concluded that even though the fire warden training employees received was in most circumstances adequate.
Experience is hard to gain especially when emergencies are few and far between (thankfully). As a result, forming a significant barrier to successful response outcomes.
To overcome such a dilemma we established a fire warden training program that fills some of the experience gaps. By incorporating mentoring and succession planning, fire warden training has become more relevant with an objective to consolidate skills and subsequent training.
Many organisations are doing a great job providing similar experience and with guidance from our professional emergency planners and trainers.
2. Fire Warden Training is the key
Granted, the national training framework provides guidelines for those who conduct fire warden training. Even so, there is often gaps between how fire warden duties are provided and other factors confronting fire wardens during emergencies.
Practice makes perfect and with regular skills maintenance and exercises, it is likely that fire wardens and/or response teams will perform to a higher standard. Contributing to less personal injuries and property damage.
PUAFER005 – Operate as part of an emergency control organisation is the name and code relating to such skills. It provides a great guide and resource for course developers.
When organisations provide skills acquisition with little to no follow up. The information learnt during fire warden training will be subject to knowledge drop off over time.
To overcome this, businesses can provide follow-up exercises and have senior fire warden (Chief wardens) provide mentoring and coaching. Passing on valuable knowledge and experience.
Such skill maintenance forms part of maintaining fire warden skills especially for those charged with emergency management responsibilities. It maybe worthwhile, and more cost effective, to provide non accredited fire warden training via online training programs.
3. Accredited and non accredited.
AS3745 (Australian Standard) provides a great guide and pathway for the organisation to plan for emergencies. Fire wardens can also use this Australian Standard to develop systems to make their specific response more effective.
When completing an accredited course there are a number of generalized learning outcomes that must be included. These are listed in the national training framework.
During accredited courses it’s often difficult to adequately contextualize the information for specific businesses in the time frame allocated.
Whereas, non-accredited course goals should and can contextualize the information for a specific location (organisation).
This would include a walk around looking at passive and active fire suppression systems and relating emergency management plans back to what is seen in reality. Resulting in more effective emergency plans and ensuring that established solutions relate to a real world response environment.
Even though, non accredited courses are less formal they should be conducted by an experienced trainer and assessor. Moreover, providing experience and relevant to the fire warden training. Qualifications of this facilitator may also be critical.
4. Initiate and control initial emergency response
Initiating a response should always be done according to workplace procedures. Hopefully placing the life risk priorities first and secondly lessening the impact on property and the environment.
When fire service personnel arrive many may think the fire warden duties becomes less significant. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The warden is a local and most often has intimate knowledge of the workplace as compared to emergency responders.
This knowledge can be the difference between life and death and fire officers understand and may ask a fire warden to stay in contact in case specialist advice is required.
Where there is an incident, emergency workers can be tied up with attack priorities. So the fire warden needs to continually consider what is happening around them. In terms of evacuation and human resource support requirements. Remember that significant research has been conducted in relation to how much effective work can be done by a single person.
The accepted ratio is 1:5. For example, one person can control five tasks effectively at once. As this ratio rises the task will be performed less satisfactory. One person in charge of 10 tasks is probably not going to do a great job. The moral of this story is to delegate earlier rather than later.
5. Teaching Fire Wardens how to Anticipate the further development of emergencies during training
Emergency responses are usually carried out as per workplace emergency procedures. It’s therefore important to establish a baseline overview of what is happening at a given time and consider the possible further escalation of the emergency. Maybe moving evacuees further away from the building.
One way to do this is to verbalize a what-if scenario during fire warden training. I.e. What if the fire reaches the Coles store? What will be my action? How will I understand escalation procedures of my organisations response to the emergencies?
Fire and Police will have command centers set up for major emergencies. There is generally an opportunity for fire wardens with specialist skills or knowledge to be part of this control process (seek it out).
6. Making fire warden duties easier by conducting training
During my career, I viewed many emergency plans. Some good and some not so good. The drawback to most was the sheer volume of information. With little emphasis on a systems approach in the form of a quick action guide.
Granted, it is understandable that organisations want to cover all bases. Especially if they could potentially find themselves in front of a judge or coroner. This doesn’t help the poor fire warden that needs to interpret the emergency plan and put it into action during emergencies.
Therefore, in my opinion, at least have a quick response guide incorporating a systems approach and include a checklist. This response document should be tested and communicated regularly (not just yearly).
In conclusion, it is essential that those with fire warden duties are trained and confident. It really doesn’t pay to leave anything to chance and the easier a plan can be implemented the better.
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