Our company is updating its emergency evacuation plan and we have been told we MUST have fire wardens. We only have 20 employees and rarely have visitors. We have asked staff to volunteer but nobody wants to do it. If we have a correct procedure in place with drills, etc., do we need to have fire wardens?
While there is no specific regulation requiring you to appoint fire wardens, the appointment of fire wardens is part of the organisation’s legal obligation to maintain health and safety under the Work Health and Safety Act, that is, to do all that is reasonably practicable to eliminate or reduce the risks of a fire or explosion.
Also, there is no specific requirement on how many fire wardens you must nominate at your workplace. In accordance with your general obligation of doing all that is reasonably practicable to eliminate or reduce the risks of a fire or explosion, you need to assess the size of the floors/areas and the level of risks on each floor/area.
It is, however, quite common for a medium- to large-size business to have a chief warden and deputy warden for the whole workplace and, depending on the size of the floors and extent of risks, a floor warden for each floor and area wardens for different areas on each floor.
You can find further information in the Australian Standard AS 3745: Planning for emergencies in facilities.