How many fire marshals are required in a workplace UK?

In the United Kingdom, workplaces are required by law to take precautions against fire risks and ensure the safety of their employees in the event of a fire. A key part of this is having trained fire marshals on site who can coordinate emergency response and evacuation procedures. But how many fire marshals does a workplace need to have? The number required depends on various factors such as the size and layout of the premises, the number of employees, the fire risks present, and whether the building is multi-tenanted.

Legal Requirements

The main legislation covering fire safety in UK workplaces is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which applies in England and Wales. Equivalent legislation applies in Scotland and Northern Ireland. This requires employers to carry out a fire risk assessment of their premises and put in place appropriate fire precautions. Part of this is having a suitable number of trained fire marshals. There are no hard rules on how many are needed – this will depend on the findings of the risk assessment. However, there are some general guidelines.

Factors Determining Numbers Required

Some of the key factors that will determine the number of fire marshals needed in a workplace are:

Size of the Premises

Larger buildings will generally need more fire marshals to properly coordinate evacuation and cover all areas. As a rough guide:

– Small single occupancy offices under 200m2 may only need 1 fire marshal
– Medium commercial premises 200-1000m2 may need 2-3 fire marshals
– Large workplaces over 1000m2 are likely to need at least 4 fire marshals and significantly more for very large buildings.

Number of Floors

Multi-storey buildings will need additional fire marshals for each floor. There should be adequate cover for all floors during an emergency evacuation.

Number of Employees

The more employees there are, the more fire marshals will be needed to ensure proper coordination and supervision during evacuation. Very approximately:

– Up to 50 employees – may only need 1 fire marshal
– 50-100 employees – consider 2 fire marshals
– Over 100 employees – additional fire marshals proportional to numbers

Fire Risks

Workplaces with higher fire risks due to processes, equipment or materials on site may need more fire marshals to provide adequate emergency cover. For example, sites with chemicals, flammable materials, welding/hot work etc.

Multi-Tenanted Buildings

In multi-tenanted office blocks or business parks with different occupiers, more fire marshals are usually required to coordinate between tenants. There may need to be fire marshals assigned to communal areas as well as in each separate tenanted office space.

Typical Numbers for Common Workplace Types

As a general guideline, typical numbers of fire marshals for some common workplace situations would be:

Small Office

– Up to 200m2 floor area
– Up to 50 employees
– Low fire risk processes

May need only 1 dedicated fire marshal.

Medium Sized Office

– 200-1000m2 floor area
– 50-100 employees
– General office fire risk

Probably need 2-3 fire marshals.

Large Office

– Over 1000m2 floor area
– 100+ employees
– Spread over 2-3 floors

Likely to need at least 4 fire marshals, with additional marshals assigned to each floor.


– 1000m2+ floor area
– High bay storage
– Flammable goods stored

May need 4+ fire marshals due to size and high fire risk.


– Less than 50 employees
– Single storey
– Some hot works/chemical use

Consider 2 dedicated fire marshals due to fire risks.

Shared Office Building

– Multiple tenants
– Communal areas
– Total 100+ employees

Probably need fire marshals assigned to each tenant and communal areas, potentially 6+ overall.

Responsibilities of a Fire Marshal

Fire marshals have an important role in fire prevention and emergency response. Their main duties include:

– Undertaking regular inspections to identify fire hazards and risks
– Ensuring fire escape routes are kept clear and fire doors are not wedged open
– Checking fire extinguishers and other firefighting equipment is maintained
– Ensuring fire alarm systems are tested regularly
– Keeping fire safety and evacuation signs clear and visible
– Coordinating the emergency evacuation of their area in the event of a fire
– Liaising with the fire brigade on arrival and providing details of the emergency
– Ensuring any fire assembly points are monitored and kept orderly
– Confirming evacuation of their area is complete
– Reporting on incidents and evacuation drills to improve procedures

Having adequate numbers of well trained fire marshals is key to maintaining a high standard of fire safety. They play a vital role in protecting life and property in the event of a workplace fire.

Providing Suitable Fire Marshal Training

To perform their role properly, fire marshals must receive formal training in fire prevention, evacuation and emergency response. Recommended training includes:

– Role and responsibilities of a fire marshal
– Undertaking fire risk assessments
– Fire prevention and hazard spotting
– Raising the alarm and calling the fire brigade
– Evacuation procedures and coordination
– Use of fire extinguishers and firefighting equipment
– Emergency response plans and procedures
– Liaising with emergency services
– Human behaviour in fires and crowd control
– Incident reporting requirements

Refresher training should also be provided at regular intervals, at least annually. Formal qualifications are available, such as the nationally recognised fire marshal qualification City & Guilds Level 2 Award in Fire Marshal Principles.

Records of training undertaken should be maintained for each fire marshal. This is important to show fire marshals are suitably trained for the role as part of fire risk assessment documentation.

Fire Marshal Identification

To be easily identified in an emergency, fire marshals should wear a distinctive armband, tabard or similar high-visibility garment designating their role when on duty. ID badges may also be worn. This helps other staff and the emergency services identify who the fire marshals are. Distinctive garments should be issued to fire marshals and worn when making inspections or responding in an emergency.

Emergency Contact Details

A list of emergency contact details should be maintained for all fire marshals so they can rapidly be contacted and mobilised in an emergency if required. Details should include phone numbers with out-of-hours information and radio call signs if radios are used on-site.

Fire Marshal Cover for Absences

Sufficient fire marshals need to be nominated and trained to provide emergency cover if some marshals are absent due to leave, illness etc. This must ensure all areas still have adequate fire marshal provision at all times when the building is occupied. Rotas may need to be drawn up detailing fire marshal availability and any contingency plans for absences.

Reviewing Fire Marshal Provision

The number of fire marshals and the fire evacuation plan should be reviewed at least annually or whenever there is a significant change in the building or work processes that may affect fire risks. More marshals may be required if:

– Employee numbers increase
– New fire risks arise
– Building layout changes
– Fire compartments are altered
– Extra floors are added

Provision should be adjusted based on the findings of revised risk assessments.

Legal Requirements for Appointing Fire Marshals

There are no specific legal requirements on exactly how many fire marshals must be appointed in a workplace. The main legal duties are:

– Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, employers must undertake a suitable fire risk assessment, appoint competent persons to implement fire safety arrangements, and provide adequate training. This would include assessing how many fire marshals are required.

– The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to assess risks to employees and make arrangements to mitigate these risks. Again, this would involve determining appropriate fire marshal numbers.

– The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require suitable arrangements to protect employees from fire risks at work. Having adequate fire marshals is part of this.

So while there is no explicit legal minimum number of fire marshals required, there is a general legal duty to assess the risks and provide a suitable number to maintain fire safety. Failure to do so could result in enforcement action by the fire authorities.

British Standards for Fire Marshals

A key British Standard providing recommendations on fire safety in the workplace is BS 9999:2017 Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings.

On fire marshals, it states that their provision should be based on the findings of the fire risk assessment and they should be present in sufficient numbers to assist with an evacuation.

However, BS 9999 does not specify a minimum legal number of fire marshals for different building types or occupancy levels. It states that the identification, role,


In summary, there are no absolute legal requirements dictating how many fire marshals are needed in UK workplaces. Numbers should be determined based on a fire risk assessment of each individual workplace and be proportional to size, layout, occupancy and fire risks.

As a general rule, small low-risk offices may only need 1 fire marshal, whereas large high-risk buildings may need many more. Adequate provision must be made to cover all areas and fire marshal absence.

Sufficient fire marshals are key to coordinating emergency evacuations and ensuring employee safety in the event of a fire. Their role requires proper ongoing training. Employers have a legal duty to appoint and train an appropriate number of fire marshals based on their specific risks.

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