I know you’re wondering how to complete a fire risk assessment to stay compliant with fire safety legislation. And wondering is good, because it suggests a positive attitude to fire safety.
In this article you will learn everything needed to complete a thorough fire risk assessment. Please read to the end of the post as we have laid some important information about WHO can undertake fire risk assessments, and the legal implications of doing so.
What is a fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment is an organised and methodical look at your premises and the activities carried on there. It assesses the likelihood of a fire starting, the cause of that fire and the resulting harm that could come to those in and around the premises.
What happens if you don’t have a fire risk assessment?
Any fire risk assessment needs to be compliant with PAS 79 (you can buy the standard here). It needs to be carried out by a competent person, which will be defined later in this article.
As it is a legal requirement to have a fire risk assessment. If you don’t have one, or if it is not fully compliant, you leave yourself open to prosecution, and fines.
How do you complete a fire risk assessment?
Five steps to risk assessment:
Step 1 – Identify people at risk
• People in and about the premises and those especially at risk.
Step 2 – Identify fire hazards
• Sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen.
Step 3 – Evaluate the Risk. Are Existing Fire Safety Measures Adequate?
• Evaluate the risk of a fire occurring.
• What is the risk to people from that fire?
• Control or reduce the fire hazard.
• Control or reduce the risk to people from that fire.
Step 4 – Record Fire Safety Risk Assessment Information, such as:
• Significant findings and actions taken;
• Emergency plan;
• Inform and instruct relevant people;
• Provide training.
Step 5 – Review of Fire Risk Assessments
• Keep assessment under review and revise where necessary
It’s important that one considers all risks. Here are SOME of the things you might include in your Fire Risk Assessment:
Housekeeping – escape routes kept clear with slip resistant flooring, no obstructions; fire doors and exits appropriately maintained and kept unobstructed; bins and skips located away from ignition sources; track movement of waste; perform close of day procedures.
Kitchen area – ensure cooking equipment has automatic fire suppression; fire extinguishers and blankets provided; cleaning and maintenance to avoid build-up of grease and blockage of extraction fans and filters; isolation switches for electrical equipment; no cooking equipment left unattended.
Storage – fire resistant storage cupboard/room; combustible materials arranged appropriately, away from electrical equipment and ignition sources; don’t overfill storage spaces; kept away from public areas; consider dangers of seasonal products such as Christmas decorations/fireworks.
Dangerous substances (storage and use) –substitute or reduce; appropriate storage away from ignition sources; awareness of dangers and precautions; electrical equipment, fire alarm and emergency lighting suitable for flammable atmospheres; appropriate ventilation; adhere to industry guidance; do not store incompatible materials together.
Equipment and machinery – check for clogged ventilation (overheating); clean adequately; interfering with/disabling manual and automatic safety override features; maintained and stored correctly; instruction and signage.
Heating – appropriately secured, fitted and guarded; convector or fan heater preferred; clear of combustible materials; portable heaters kept away from public areas; regular servicing.
Electrical safety – overheating; correct installation; damaged equipment, wires, insulation; maintenance and testing by competent person; regularly inspected by electrical engineer.
Smoking – signage; deep non-combustible ashtrays and emptied into metal waste bins outside (no plastic disposal bags).
Building works – review fire risk assessment before any building or refurbishment works take place as fires start more often during this time; consider permit to work arrangements; constantly monitor the increased risk to people; use only materials for the work in hand; control the specific risks.
Building layout and Insulated core panels – these aspects of your risk assessment may include determination of unseen materials or areas, for example drop shafts, voids behind wall panelling; and the potentially flammable insulation sandwiched between cladding and wall partitions where fire can grow unnoticed, (the cause of the Grenfell Tower fire).
Restricting spread of fire – that means preventing the early spread of fire and smoke, pay particular attention to: display materials; which parts of your building are fire-resisting areas; ventilation systems.
Arson – outside is well lit; entry points secured; combustible waste and vehicles not located adjacent to building; restrict entry; suitable security and monitoring; metal boxes inside letter flaps.
This is not an exhaustive list and you need to identify and control, the risks specific to your business. Generic templates and checklists are not adequate, especially if you are not qualified to undertake fire risk assessments.
Who can undertake a fire risk assessment?
As you look at all of the things listed above, can you see how detailed a risk assessment needs to be? If you need to look up this information, the chances are you are not qualified to perform a fire risk assessment.
When asked his opinion on who should complete fire risk assessments, Adrian Lee (NEBOSH Fire Certificate trainer and examiner and director of ADL Associates, who has taught fire fighters in the process of fire risk assessment) had the following to say:
“The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRFSO) is a strong piece of legislation…Where I feel the weak link in the chain lays is in the enforcement of the RRFSO. As a consultant I have visited many establishments where the Fire Risk Assessment is either not done at all, or more worryingly, the assessment has been completed by those with little or no real knowledge, and therefore it has been wholly inadequate. What is more worrying, is that some of those completing the assessments are marketing themselves as qualified consultants, working either independently or for national companies!”
In light of that, can you see how much the help of a qualified and experienced consultant can benefit you? Reduced stress on you as the responsible person, a hugely reduced potential for prosecution and resulting fines. Even more importantly, you can have peace of mind that everyone in your workplace is safe from fire. If you would like more information on your duties under the RRFSO legislation, view our training page.
All of our fire safety consultants have passed the FPA (Fire Protection Association) Fire Risk Assessment Course.
If you would like to enquire about having a fire risk assessment carried out at your premises by one of our qualified fire safety consultants, please call us on 01926 623 133 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.