Fire Risk Assessments – Are You Compliant?Published on 15th January 2018 by Nicola Wilson
What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
A fire risk assessment evaluates your business premises in terms of fire safety hazards to both people and property. It will look at the risks associated to both your employees and visitors to the premises. A qualified fire risk assessor visits your site to conduct a physical inspection, then constructs a clear, concise report which is your Fire Risk Assessment document. This report will detail actions which must be addressed to the minimise risk of fire.
A Fire Risk Assessment will look at:
- emergency routes and exits
- fire detection and warning systems
- fire-fighting equipment
- the removal or safe storage of dangerous substances
- an emergency fire evacuation plan
- the needs of vulnerable people, for example the elderly, young children or those with disabilities
- providing information to employees and other people on the premises
- staff fire safety training
Who Needs a Fire Risk Assessment?
All companies with five or more employees must conduct a documented fire risk assessment. This also applies to non-domestic properties where the public has access to, common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings, and domestic properties such as B&Bs, guest houses and self-catering properties. This assessment is to ensure that all the correct measures have been taken regarding fire prevention and detection.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 emphasises the importance of preventing fires and reducing risk. The designated ‘responsible person’ must conduct, or employ a suitably qualified person to conduct a fire risk assessment and implement and maintain a fire safety plan.
Who is the ‘Responsible Person’?
You’re responsible for the fire safety in your business or other non-domestic premises if you’re:
- an employer
- the owner
- the landlord
- an occupier
- anyone else with control of the premises (e.g. facilities manager, building manager, managing agent or risk assessor)
You’re known as the ‘Responsible Person’. If there’s more than one responsible person, you have to work together to meet your responsibilities.
Who Can Conduct the Fire Risk Assessment?
The Responsible Person, if competent enough and with the relevant expertise, can carry out the Fire Risk Assessment. However, we strongly recommend you appoint a suitably qualified Fire Risk Assessor to conduct your assessment. It’s not worth the risk of not completing the assessment properly. If the worst was to happen, you would be held liable!
How Often Do I Need a Fire Risk Assessment?
The Fire Safety Order states that a Fire Risk Assessment should be kept up to date, and redone if there’s a significant change in the environment. To ensure compliance, we recommended that you have your Fire Risk Assessment reviewed every 12 months, and that a new one is carried out every 3 years, or immediately if there is a change within the building – either a structural change, or if the activities or storage within areas of the building changes.
What if I don’t have a Fire Risk Assessment completed?
If a fire occurs on the premises it highly likely that you will be held legally responsible and you could face legal action for negligence. Your business must have a fire risk assessment by law. The punishment for not having one is severe. By not having a Fire Risk Assessment, you’re also putting your staff at serious risk. It is also extremely unlikely that your insurance would pay out in the event of a fire.
The Fire Safety Order gives Fire Inspectors and Fire Officers the authority to inspect your premises. If they feel an infringement of the Fire Safety Order has occurred they can either:
- close the premises until action has been taken to rectify the problem, if they believe the infringement of the legislation is serious and dangerous
- Or serve you an enforcement notice, which will give you a limited period (sometimes as little as 28 days) to rectify any problems before further action is taken
What Happens Next?
If you need a Fire Risk Assessment, or think your existing assessment should be reviewed, then please contact us for a no obligation quote. Our fire risk assessor has over 30 years’ experience in fire safety and is a member of the prestigious Institute of Fire Engineers.