Fire Risk Assessment Advice


The law states that you are responsible for carrying out a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment; if you own or manage a business premises, are an employer or self employed with a business premises, are responsible for part of a dwelling that is used for business purposes, a charity or voluntary organization, a contractor or managing agent of a building, or provide accommodation for paying guests.

A fire risk assessment is a means of identifying and recording any fire risks that may be present in a building or premises, with a view to assessing the current level of compliance and improving the level of fire safety, in order to create a safer environment for everyone in the unfortunate event of a fire.

The assessment should be carried out by what's known as the “responsible person” - this person should have sufficient knowledge of fire safety, and in some cases (depending on the complexity of the premises) have undergone the relevant fire safety training.

The “responsible person” doesn’t explicitly have to be a professional fire safety consultant, although, in larger, more complex buildings a specialist would normally be contracted.

Due to the fundamental role that fire risk assessments play in preventing risk in the workplace it is normally advised that a systematic approach is taken, this not only makes the task more manageable, but also helps to ensure that nothing is missed.

As well as visually assessing the risks and verbally gathering information in order to  complete the assessment it can also be useful to consult any relevant documentation, such as; building and site plans, company fire safety policy, existing fire risk assessments/fire certificates, schematic drawings of any fire safety systems in place, and any documented maintenance records/regimes.

There are a few different methods that can be used to carry out risk assessments, but generally you would;

1) Identify the Fire hazards, these would include; sources of ignition, sources of fuel, and sources of oxygen.

2) Identify persons at risk, including persons in and around the building, and anybody especially at risk.

These could include;

  • Disabled persons who might need special evacuation procedures to be devised.
  • Persons with hearing impairments who might not be able to react to audible alarms
  • Visitors and/or members of the public who may be unfamiliar with evacuation procedures
  • Workers who may be working in remote, hard to evacuate areas, such as, inside of vessels or tanks.
  • Employees or contractors who may be working in noisy areas where alarms may not be heard
  • Young persons or children
  • Pregnant or expectant mothers.

3) Evaluate the risks and decide whether the existing controls are sufficient or whether it is reasonably practicable to do more.

The risks evaluated would include, not only the above mentioned fire hazards, but would also take into account other potential hazards, such as; the suitability of the fire detection system, the provision of fire protection equipment, the means of escape, and the provision of emergency lighting.

4) Record the significant findings of the assessment (This is a legal requirement if 5 or more people are employed)

5) Put systems in place to revise and review the assessment when necessary, ensuring that it is reviewed regularly.

The regulatory reform (fire safety) order doesn’t actually specify exactly what would constitute ‘regularly’ in the eyes of the law, but normally a review date would be included in the assessment.

Where there is no review date, or the review date has been missed (perhaps due to organisational or personnel changes), it would be fair to say that they should be reviewed annually, along with any other fire and safety documentation.

There are many reasons why you might also need to review your risk assessment, which could include;

  • A significant change in staff members
  • A significant change to the structure of the organisation
  • Significant changes to the work or processes carried out on the premises
  • Significant changes to the building structure, layout, or intended use
  • Advances in technology
  • The introduction of dangerous substances to the premises
  • Any other reason to suspect that it might not remain valid

If you have not found the information that you are looking for, or would like some further advice about fire risk assessments, please feel free to contact us.


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