Is it a requirement to conduct regular fire safety risk assessments?
Under the terms of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, every business owner, property manager or employer must conduct regular fire safety risk assessments. These risk assessments are supposed to form the backbone of your fire prevention strategy, and should include:
- A thorough examination of all potential fire hazards, including ignition and fuel sources
- A close look at the people who will be most at risk during a fire (including employees, building residents or customers)
- An evaluation of any risk factors, and a strategy for their removal/reduction
- A thorough inspection of any measures designed to improve fire safety (including sprinklers, fire alarms or extinguishers)
- Details of your evacuation plan(s)
If you employ more than 5 members of staff - or run a business that’s open to the public - you also have a legal obligation to document your fire safety risk assessments, and store the resultant records so that:
- You can review and update them on a regular basis
- The fire brigade can inspect them on demand
How important are fire risk assessments?
Failing to maintain adequate records of your fire safety assessments can open your business up to legal trouble and may also result in substantial fines being issued by your local fire protection officers.
Large or complex organisations often employ a specialist risk assessor to carry out their fire risk assessments, but you are allowed to appoint a “responsible person” from your own staff or produce risk assessments on your own. As long as you’ve received adequate training and know how to properly record your findings, fire risk assessments are relatively easy to carry out on your own.
Carrying out your own fire risk assessments also enables you to control every aspect of your business’s fire prevention strategy and may save a considerable amount of money, so it’s always worth familiarising yourself with the risk assessment process.
To help you out, we’ve provided a basic bullet-point fire risk assessment template that can be used as the basis.
What should a fire risk assessment look like?
A fire risk assessment should always include:
- Details of the premises (inc. address and purpose)
- Details of the assessor (inc. name, occupation/position)
A list of potential fire hazards, including:
- Sources of ignition like boilers, naked flames or hot work stations
- Fuel sources like flammable liquids, furnishings or display materials
- Details of any structural features that could help to spread a fire
A list of the people who would be at risk during a fire, including:
- Temporary staff or contractors
- People with increased risk due to a disability or impairment
An evaluation of fire risks, including:
- An honest evaluation of the risk of a fire starting
- A list of things that could be done to reduce the risk of a fire starting
- A list of things that could be done to safeguard at-risk individuals during a fire
- A list of the precautions you’ve already taken, and intend to take in future. This could include separating fuel sources from possible sources of ignition, investing in new technology or changed procedure
- Details of egress points/means of escape, including both horizontal and vertical routes out of the building (eg. fire escapes and how they are accessed, fire doors and where they are located)
Details of any pre-existing fire safety aids, including:
- Fire safety signs and notices
- Fire warning systems (eg. smoke alarms)
- Emergency lighting systems
- Fire fighting equipment
- Details of the maintenance performed on fire safety systems, including details of your fire alarm testing schedule, your fire extinguisher inspection schedule and your maintenance regime for emergency lighting or sprinkler systems
- Details of your emergency action plan (EAP)
- Details of the fire safety training that you and your staff have received
If you’d like to know more about carrying out your own fire safety risk assessments or you feel that you would benefit from further fire safety training, you may be interested in our course on fire safety for fire marshals and wardens.
If you'd like to know more about acarrying out your own fire safety risk assessments or you feel you would benefit from further fire safety training, you may be interested in our course on Fire Safety for Fire Marshals and Wardens.