Understanding your obligations when it comes to fire risk assessments can be tricky. If you’re on this page, the chances are that you need one.
A fire risk assessment is central to any successful fire safety procedure. Without one, you’re essentially relying solely on experience and a generic, ‘rule of thumb’ approach; that simply won’t cut it when it comes to fire safety protocol.
No two situations are exactly the same, and that is exactly why an independent fire risk assessment is required to be carried out for every block of flats and business premises. What works for one building may well not be relevant for another, and adopting a generic approach is likely to overlook several key risks.
What is a fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment reviews how safe a building is with a view to uncovering any risks of a fire breaking out. From there, the assessment will then offer recommendations on how the building’s safety can be improved.
This assessment should also be reviewed regularly. That may sound like a lot to take in, but there are five main steps to the procedure:
- Identify the people at risk
- Identify the fire hazards
- Evaluate, reduce, and remove the risks
- Record the findings
- Review – there is no set schedule for this, but we would recommend an annual assessment
It is extremely important that any recommendations are acted upon swiftly. Ultimately, that could prove to be the difference between your occupants being safe and not.
Why is a fire risk assessment important?
We’ve already covered that to an extent, but there’s a bottom line: it is your legal obligation to ensure the safety of your building’s occupants.
To comply with the Fire Safety Order of 2005, you must have a fire risk assessment carried out for all premises (where people work, meet or gather). This is not simply something you can dismiss as a task for the fire brigade; you can be prosecuted for not having a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment in place, and it is the business owners, directors, or people with day-to-day control who are normally deemed responsible.
Failing to carry out a fire risk assessment, and not having the necessary measures in place as a result, will lead to prosecution. The form of that prosecution depends on the severity of the case, but it can ultimately lead to a prison sentence in some instances.
What do I need to do?
The legal guidelines around fire risk assessments do contain some vagaries. For example, the assessment can be conducted by a ‘competent individual’, which does not necessarily mean that a qualified company or individual needs to be involved.
Provided the conductor of your fire risk assessment is capable of considering all of the required factors, and recording their findings in sufficient detail, they are eligible.
They may also need to develop a fire safety plan, based on their own recommendations.
With that in mind, we would highly recommend that you <em>do hire a professional</em> to carry out your fire risk assessment. To do so gives you complete peace of mind that you’re in safe hands, provided you can be sure the professional is able to prove their credentials.
Help and Safety at Work Ltd
To speak to a member of the Help and Safety at Work Ltd team, simply head over to our contact page and fill out our form, or call us on 01832 735 874. We would be more than happy to hear from you.