What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
A fire risk assessment is a visual review of a building, in order to assess its fire risk and offer recommendations, if necessary, to make the building safer.
If you employ less than 5 employees, as with a Health & Safety policy, a written Fire risk assessment it isn’t required, however, it is always recommended to record any Fire safety checks that you make in a logbook, so should a fire incident occur, you have proof that the premises have been maintained regularly.
By law, every Multi occupied building, all employers and all premises open to the public are required to conduct a fire risk assessment. However, not everyone is aware of the requirement or have an understanding of what is needed, for this essential fire safety measure.
We do, recommend that a fire risk assessment always is in writing, simply as a way to communicate the findings and to ensure, that any recommendations are carried out.
Legal guidelines for Fire Risk Assessments
As a responsible person, you must carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises. This will identify what you need to do to prevent fire and keep people safe.
It would be recommended that the review is carried out:
· Every 12 months after the original assessment is done
· Conduct a new assessment, no more than 3 years after the original
If changes are made to the property such as:
· the building’s purpose/use.
· the building structure, such as the layout, has changed – especially in today's current circumstances with one-way systems and social distancing.
· the numbers/kind of occupants using or living in the building change.
These can significantly impact on your fire safety plans. Which is why, it is very important that a review of your fire risk assessment, is conducted.
If you employ more than 5 people, then you are legally required for your fire risk assessment, to be documented.
As highlighted earlier, it is recommended that your assessment is always in writing, no matter what size your premises.
There are other scenarios where you will be required to have a written fire risk assessment such as:
· You have been instructed to do so by the fire brigade (for example, after a visit)
· If your premises are required to have a licence E.G House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO)
· Your insurance may also insist on an annual Fire risk assessment
The main findings and actions to be taken must be recorded.
Fire Risk Assessment has two parts that must be generated:
The 'First part' is the actual review, which assesses the premises fire safety against several points. The PAS79 methodology, which lays out the format for a suitable assessment.
The 'Second part' is a list of requirements that should be acted upon, in order for the building to be compliant. Reports should rate each recommendation with a timescale, so it easy for the Responsible person to see and address, the higher risk/most important areas first. These recommendations must be acted on, as it will ultimately keep your building and the occupants, safe.
Who is responsible to conduct an FRA?
The designated RP(Responsible Person) is to ensure that all relevant fire safety checks are carried out. They then need to ensure that any necessary action is taken, in order to prevent fires from occurring and to prevent death or injury, if a fire takes place.
The RP is, therefore, the one who needs to ensure that a valid fire risk assessment, is carried out on the premises.
Small business owners are usually the Responsible Person for their premises; however, they may appoint a Fire safety manager.
For Multi occupied buildings Commercial and/or Residential, the Responsible Person is usually the managing agent or landlord, although it can be a Residents’ Association member.
The Responsible Person in these buildings is only responsible for common/shared areas, eg stairwells and corridors. In these circumstances, Residents are responsible for ensuring that their own flats are safe from fire, or Business tenants must ensure they have their own fire risk assessment, for their occupied space.
Where can I get a copy of the FRA?
As a building occupant, you have the right to view the Fire Risk Assessment for the premises.
You should first contact your building’s Responsible Person. If you are unsure who that is, then a good place to start would be the business owner, managing agent, landlord or facilities department.
If there is no valid fire risk assessment for your building, you can ask the RP to ensure one is carried out.
Should you feel your concerns are not being treated seriously by the RP, then for help/advice you can contact the local fire and rescue service or your local housing authority department.
What areas are covered in an FRA?
Fire Risk Assessments should be comprehensive and review all of your fire safety equipment, policies, procedures and fire safety checks. The amount of detail included in an individual report will depend, to a great extent, on the building’s complexity and use. A kiosk or small shop, for example, will have a lot less that needs to be assessed, compared to a care home or school.
Although every fire risk assessment is unique, below are some of the fire prevention and fire risk factors that should be checked by the assessor, as part of the assessment:
· The building’s construction, layout, and use – does it have any historical fire incidents
· The nature and number of occupants, including any potentially vulnerable occupants
· Fire safety checks – are they being carried out and recorded
· The correct Fire safety equipment is installed, serviced and maintained
· What sources of ignition does it have, eg Electrical installation/equipment – are they properly maintained.
· Is the premises and relevant outside areas kept free of combustibles, reducing the risk of fire spread or preventing arson
· Are Smoking areas designated and properly monitored/maintained to prevent fires starting, caused by smoking
· Protection against fires that are caused by lightning
· Is the general housekeeping of a good standard
· Are key high-risk areas being kept clear of any combustible materials
· The configuration and maintenance of escape routes
· Storage arrangements for any flammable and dangerous liquids
· Adequate means are in place to raise the alarm in the event of a fire
· Fire safety signs are in the proper locations and used correctly
· Are other Fire safety devices like sprinklers required
· Is fire safety training given and how often are evacuation drills conducted.
· Fire doors are sufficient, suitable and maintained
· Ensure where the building/occupants rely on passive fire protection, that this has not been compromised.
Penalties for failing an FRA.
If you do not have a fire risk assessment and do not have the proper fire safety precautions in place, the penalty is prosecution. This can result in severe fines or in the cases of extreme negligence, the penalty can be a prison sentence. There is also the risk to life!
Having a regular Fire risk assessment can help ensure you are taking every step to keep your occupants safe.
Finally, it protects your business or investment or both. The premises will be your place of work, source of income or your investment and a Fire risk assessment will help to prevent a fire from destroying this.
Would you like us to organise a Fire Risk Assessment for your property? Email us with your details and we will come back to you with a quotation.
Please contact our team on E: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on +44 (0) 207 692 0772.
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