A fire risk assessment is the building block on which all the fire safety procedures and measures at your commercial premises are constructed. It’s a statutory requirement under the terms of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which means that if you are the owner, occupier or employer at premises other than single private dwellings, you are legally required to conduct one at those premises.
This month, we’re taking a close look at the key requirements surrounding fire risk assessments, including what they are, who needs to carry them out, and what they involve.
What is a fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment is a detailed review of a business’ premises that is designed to identify fire risks and hazards, identify ways of minimising and tackling them, and make emergency plans in the event of a fire. The ultimate goals are to reduce the risks of a fire happening and to make the building safer where necessary.
Who is responsible for completing a fire assessment?
Each business should have a ‘responsible person’ who, among other things, is responsible for ensuring that a fire risk assessment happens. In theory, that person could also carry out the assessment, but the Fire Safety Order specifies that it must be done by a ‘competent’ person who has the experience and knowledge to do the job effectively.
If there’s no one in your organisation that fits the bill, or your premises are large and with multiple fire risks, you’re far better off getting a professional to do the job for you.
What should a fire risk assessment cover?
There are five key elements to a fire risk assessment as detailed in government guidelines. These are:
- Identify fire hazards – what are the main risks likely to lead to a fire and what materials present might cause that fire to spread?
- Identify people at risk – are there people on the premises who might be particularly vulnerable in the event of a fire? This could be people with mobility issues, or people whose work or location might put them more at risk and so require special measures to ensure their safe evacuation.
- Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks – once the hazards and risks have been identified, you need to find ways to remove and reduce them. This could be through the installation of fire prevention and fire control measures such as fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire doors and other fire safety equipment.
- Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training – create a detailed plan for who needs to do what in the event of a fire emergency, including ensuring safe escape and evacuation routes, and make sure all your staff have appropriate fire safety training. Technically, you only need to maintain a written record if you have five or more employees, but we’d strongly recommend doing so even if it’s not a legal requirement.
- Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly – because new risks and hazards can arise, it’s vital that regular reviews are conducted so that you can be sure that you’re always on top of all your fire safety measures.
Do I need a fire risk assessment?
As mentioned earlier, if you own, occupy or manage premises other than a single private dwelling, you need to carry out a fire risk assessment there. This includes HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) and the common parts of residential buildings with more than one private dwelling.
How often should a fire risk assessment be reviewed?
Reviews should be carried out at least every twelve months, but you should bring the next one forward if there is a change in the layout or use of your building or new risks to individuals emerge.
If you need professional help with the fire risk assessment at your premises in or near Leeds, Bradford or Huddersfield, please get in touch with the team at Hoyles Fire & Safety today.
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By Hoyles Fire and Safety Ltd