To become a fire warden, it might be necessary to have firefighting experience as well as safety training, depending on what kind of warden position is being filled. Generally, fire wardens are responsible for coordinating fire safety, including responses to fires. They are distinct from fire marshals, who are public officials who might act as fire investigators in addition to certifying buildings as safe for occupancy. The requirements for these two positions typically are very different, although in a small community, a fire warden might act like a marshal.
On college and corporate campuses, there might be a requirement that each building have a fire warden, a person who is tasked with helping people evacuate safely in the event of a fire. This is especially common in dormitories. This person might be a member of the staff or a student who is in good physical condition and can commit to the task. To become a fire warden in this context, it is necessary to volunteer or sign up and attend a training session to learn how to perform the job.
Fire wardens also supervise fire safety in towns and villages as well as working on forest fires and wilderness fires. For this kind of warden position, it usually is necessary to be a trained firefighter. Some fire wardens are drawn from volunteer fire departments, which usually train their own personnel to meet their needs. Others might be graduates of formal firefighting programs who work as professional firefighters before applying to become fire wardens.
In most regions, the fire warden is an appointed official. Applicants for the position typically meet with local government representatives to present their credentials and complete an interview. They might need letters of recommendation from members of the firefighting community. Often, they also need to meet basic requirements, such as having a publicly listed phone number so that members of the public can report fire risks or concerns. In other cases, someone such as the fire chief might become a fire warden by default.
Fire wardens who act as government officials might have the power to issue burn permits, building occupancy licenses and other permissions, and it might be necessary to be familiar with the building code to become a fire warden. In addition to responding to fires, fire wardens also help develop fire safety and evacuation plans in preparation for an emergency. Many also are involved in public outreach and education. They might travel to schools to work with students or meet with local businesses to discuss fire risks and how to mitigate them. Some even publish brochures and other public information documents on topics such as preparing for fire season and responding to electrical or grease fires in the home.