Fire Risk Assessment – More Than Just A Tick in The Box

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What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

A fire risk assessment is an organised and methodical look at your premesis, the activities carried out there and the likellhood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in and around the premesis.

The assessment must focus on the safety in case of fire of all ‘relevant persons’. It should pay particular attention to those at special risk, such as disabled people (mobility impairment or learning disability), those who you know have special needs and children, and must include consideration of any dangerous substances liable to be on the premesis.

The Aims of the Fire Risk Assessment are:

  • To identify the fire hazards.
  • To reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm to as low as reasonably practicle.
  • To decide what physical fire precautions and management arrangements are necessary to ensure the safety of people in your building if a fire does start.

Who Can Carry Out a Fire Risk Assessment?

Assessments should be carried out by a competent person, in more complex premises this may need to be a specialist, but in general the assessor should have suitable knowledge, training, experience, and also any relevant qualifications.

Is it Required by Law?

Yes. There are few exceptions.

If you are the ‘responsible person’ and you or your organisation employ five or more people, you must carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and record any significant findings.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, a fire risk assessment is necessary in virtually all buildings in England and Wales, other than domestic dwellings, which can be inspected by the Fire Authorities for compliance.

Non compliance may result in substantial fines and closure of part or all of your workplace/premises and even imprisonment. The “responsible person(s)” must manage any fire risk on the premises, and to do this he/she/they need to carry out a fire risk assessment.

What is Involved?

A fire risk assessment involves a physical inspection of the building to determine the adequacy of the existing fire precautions and the need for any additional measures.

However, of equal importance to the physical inspection is a review of fire safety management in the organisation and consideration of the human factors – how people will respond to an emergency and whether they will take appropriate action.

Normally the government approved ‘five steps to risk assessment’ procedure would be followed.

This would mean that the assessor, whilst carrying out their inspection, would;

  1. Identify any hazards or risks that may be present.
  2.  Decide who is at risk and how they may be harmed.
  3. Evaluate the risks and existing control measures, and decide whether more needs to be done.
  4. Record any significant findings.
  5. Review and revise the assessment as necessary.

This information would then be documented, and normally be used to devise an ‘action plan’, along with timescales to complete any remedial works that may be required.

 

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