The primary purpose of a Fire Risk Assessment is to ensure the safety of the occupants of a building. The person in charge of the building is responsible for ensuring that all fire risks are properly documented and monitored.
A Fire Risk Assessment, in short, is a review taken of a building with the purpose of assessing it for hazards that pose a fire risk and then to wherever possible address these risks so as to either eliminate them or reduce the risks to an acceptable level – this being a requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
There are various legal guidelines to consider when undertaking a Fire Risk Assessment. The first of these guidelines are that the Risk Assessment must be reviewed on a regular basis, in detail. The criteria for when a Fire Risk Assessment should be reviewed is –
There are two main parts to a Fire Risk Assessment, one the actual review that will assess the fire safety of the property against set criteria, and two a list of requirements that require action in order for the building to comply with fire safety measures – the Fire Safety Action Plan. It is essential that this list of actions be completed as they are designed to ensure the overall safety of the building and its occupants.
Every building, whether it be a block of flats or a business premises, is required to designate a ‘Responsible Person’ (Duty Holder). The designated responsible person is in charge of ensuring the building maintains an acceptable standard of fire safety. The “Responsible Person” needs to make sure that a valid fire risk assessment is completed on the building.
The designated person in charge of fire safety is typically the same across buildings with similar uses, for example, small business owners are usually responsible unless another member of the team is selected, in tower blocks and flat buildings the ‘Responsible Person’ is normally the managing agent or landlord, however a member of the Residents’ Association can also be nominated.
In addition, it is also important to note that in residential buildings, such as tower blocks and flat buildings, the ‘Responsible Person’ is only concerned with ensuring the safety of communal areas including stairwells and corridors – Residents are responsible for ensuring the fire safety of their homes.
A Fire Risk Assessment should be extremely thorough and assess the building across a comprehensive range of safety criteria. However, the level of detail required in the assessment is largely dictated by the overall complexity of the building, for example a small single compartment shop will likely have a less complex assessment.
Despite the uniqueness in complexity and criteria of every Fire Risk Assessment, there are a number of general criteria that must be considered by the assessor, these are as a guide –
A Fire Risk Assessment can be conducted by any ‘competent individual’. The competence of an individual conducting the assessment is based upon their technical competency (qualifications) and experience in adequately assessing the building against all the criteria mentioned in the previous section etc. Additionally, the person that is completing the assessment needs to be able to record all significant findings clearly and in detail, develop a Fire Safety Action Plan including necessary changes and adequately record these actions in writing, implement that action plan if necessary, and be able to continuously update the Fire Risk Assessment.
A professional fire risk assessor undergoes lots of detailed training and is fully versed in all of the most recent guidelines and legal requirements, including how they should be applied to different kinds of buildings. Watson and Watson provide a Risk Assessment training programs in addition to performing Fire Risk Assessments themselves to ensure that your building is properly assessed.
The consequences for not having an up-to-date Fire Risk Assessment vary on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, the offender can face severe fines whilst in others the offender can even face a prison sentence as well, this also being balanced against the potential loss of life! Therefore, it is essential that a building at least meets all the specified requirements, and the fire safety of the building is continuously monitored.
In order to properly ensure the adequacy of building’s fire safety measures we recommend using a professionally trained fire risk assessor to consult and complete the assessment with. This will ensure that no important factors are missed, and you can ensure that the building and occupants that you are responsible for are safe.
For further reading/information please reference the Fire Prevention in the Workplace or Contact Watson and Watson today to learn more about our Fire Risk Assessment consultancy services. Please call us on 01623 753 654 or send us an email for more information.
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