What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
The Fire Risk Assessment is a detailed study of the premises, the kind of business that is carried out and the people who may be at risk of fire within the building. All of these factors are then brought together to assess and reduce the risks of fire, to ensure the safety of the building’s occupants and in the worst case scenario, their safe evacuation.
What does the Fire Risk Assessment cover?
The First Step… is for the assessor to examine the building layout, and structure, and identify and record the fire risks that may be present. This includes any materials, or situations where fire is particularly likely to break out.
The Second Step… is to look at the people who occupy the premises and identify if they are at risk, to what extent and why. This might include people who work out of main office hours, like cleaners, or anyone in an isolated location. It must also consider people with mobility problem. This includes not only the risk of fire to them, but also their safe means of escape. These factors must be considered with reference to specific recommendations laid down in the RRO regarding distance from protected escape routes and exits.
The Third Step… Is to evaluate all the risks together and then to identify and put into place systems that will control or eliminate the risks of a fire, and ensure the safety of all personnel in the event of an outbreak.
The Fourth Step… is to record the findings – a legal obligation if there are five or more employees. It is generally agreed, that even there are less than five employees, having a written assessment is good practice. It is a legal obligation to carry out any recommendations or action steps identified in the assessment. These findings should then be bought together in another document, called the Emergency Plan, which is the guidance and procedures used to train your staff to deal with emergency situations. Adequately and appropriately training staff in fire safety, is part of the obligations covered under the RRO.
And finally the Fifth Step… is to ensure that you regularly review your Fire Risk Assessment Plan – it must be reviewed at least annually, and also as necessary when changes occur within the premises that might affect the risk assessment.
Who can carry out the Fire Risk Assessment?
You can carry out the Fire Risk Assessment yourself, but whoever carries it out, must be “reasonably competent” to do so, and the resulting document must be well informed and based upon published Government Guidance.
The government encourages people to take ownership of their fire safety arrangements, and by publishing 14 guidance documents, available free to download off the government website, makes it possible to access the information required to carry out your own assessment. However the problem for most people is a lack of specific knowledge and understanding of fire, what constitutes a fire risk, the individual risks to personnel when fire breaks out, and the measures that are available and appropriate to control these risks. Producing an adequate Fire Risk Assessment can be a time consuming task, particularly for those without any knowledge and experience of Fire Safety, and the consequences of getting it wrong can be disastrous.
The alternative is to use a third party to do the risk assessment for you
- Staines Safety Services have staff specially trained and qualified to carry out Fire Risk Assessments. All of our risk assessors are Graduate Members of the Institute of Fire Safety Managers
- We will produce a comprehensive document, covering all the required elements and recommendations specific to your building and specifying any actions with a time scale.
- We send a reminders within the 12 months, that it needs reviewing and carry out the review for you if you require. However, once put in place the Fire Risk Assessment is much easier to maintain by the Responsible Person should they so wish.