Do I need a Fire Warden?

Public news

We often get asked questions about whether or not a business requires a Fire Warden or Emergency Warden, and how often their training must be refreshed.

The WHS Regulations only state that:

A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure that an emergency plan is prepared for the workplace, that provides for the following:

(a) emergency procedures, including—

(i) an effective response to an emergency; and
(ii) evacuation procedures; and
(iii) notifying emergency service organisations at the earliest opportunity; and
(iv) medical treatment and assistance; and
(v) effective communication between the person authorised by the person conducting the business or undertaking to coordinate the emergency response and all persons at the workplace;

(b) testing of the emergency procedures, including the frequency of testing;

(c) information, training and instruction to relevant workers in relation to implementing the emergency procedures.

So while there is no need for accredited training, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must ensure that they have an adequate number of trained workers to carry out their emergency plan e.g. an Emergency Control Organisation (ECO) based on the following:

(a) the nature of the work being carried out at the workplace;
(b) the nature of the hazards at the workplace;
(c) the size and location of the workplace;
(d) the number and composition of the workers and other persons at the workplace.

It is unlikely workers could respond effectively to a fire emergency if they have not received formal training, or had not had the benefit of regular evacuation drills.

AS 3745 Planning for Emergencies in facilities clause 1.4.5 states that a competent person is a person who has acquired through training, education, qualification, experience, or a combination of these, the knowledge and skill enabling him/her to correctly perform the required task. All training and skills retention activities shall be conducted or supervised by competent person(s), as defined by Clause 1.4.5.

It also states that Emergency preparedness relates to the

Arrangements made to ensure that, should an emergency occur, all those resources and services that are needed to cope with the effects can be efficiently mobilized and deployed.

NOTE: Examples of emergency preparedness are: the membership, structure and duties of the Emergency Planning Committee (EPC); emergency identification; the appointment of an ECO; development and maintenance of emergency procedures; training; organising the temporary removal of people and property from a threatened location; facilitating timely and effective rescue.

Each workplace has to have a Chief Warden as a minimum and the person appointed should:

(a) be capable of performing their duties;
(b) be capable of leading and taking command;
(c) display effective decision-making skills;
(d) demonstrate the capability to remain calm under pressure;
(e) be available to undertake their appointed duties;
(f) be capable of effectively communicating with occupants and visitors;
(g) be familiar with the facility; and
(h) be able to undergo relevant training.

Where first-attack firefighting by specific occupants is included in the emergency procedures, these occupants shall attend a skills retention activity in first-attack firefighting at intervals not greater than two years.

Members need to assess the risks at each workplace and have at least a Chief Warden for each site, more if deemed necessary to carry out your emergency plan. While formal training is not a legal requirement, it is strongly recommended, and is required if your emergency plan includes first-attack firefighting. The recommendation from the MTA is that the best way to ensure compliance with the WHS Regulations is to have at least one person (the Chief Warden) trained as an Emergency Warden, alongside preparing your emergency plan.

Emergency Warden (Fire Warden) training is offered by the MTA at a significant discount for members please contact the MTA WR team on 8291 2000 or wr@mtasant.com.au to book in to our next session.