Fire safety: Building Floor Warden Roles & Responsibilities

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It would be very convenient if occupants of all buildings could follow the same set of fire evacuation procedures when the fire alarm system sounds in the building. While there are common elements in all fire evacuations, the actual procedures are always customized for each building. This is because there is such a diverse range of buildings, types of occupancies and occupant loads.

Mandatory under the fire code, scheduled fire drills are to be conducted as outlined in the approved fire safety plan for the purposes of establishing occupant familiarity with the evacuation procedures should a real fire event occur. The ultimate goal of the drills is to increase the effectiveness of an evacuation for the occupants during an actual emergency.

It is to be noted that property managers, building operators, building owners and business managers are obligated to familiarize the tenants with the emergency procedures, and to provide them with the ability to monitor their own environment. The shared responsibility on the part of the entire building or business population will result in a safe evacuation for all.

The fire code requires that the property managers responsible for a building ensure that a sufficient number of supervisory and floor warden personnel are in place. For the most part, these personnel are responsible for a particular space, be it an entire or partial floor. It is their role to improve knowledge and awareness by occupants of their floor or tenanted space.

The floor wardens must be thoroughly familiar with not only all alternative means of egress, but the workings of the building fire alarm alerting systems and other related fire and life safety equipment. They are to ensure that occupants evacuate the area, when it is safe to do so, via the nearest exit to an outside assembly location.

The decision as to whether to evacuate may hinge on how far smoke and fire has progressed within the building. The fire safety plan specifies the locations of safe havens outside the building where evacuees are to assemble, as highlighted on the site plan drawing. Volunteer floor wardens are to provide direction in an assertive manner, in order to implement the evacuation procedures prescribed in the approved fire safety plan. The list of the floor wardens is to be kept up to date in the fire safety plan at all times.

This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. See www.firepoint.ca or call (905) 874-9400.

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