Fire risk assessments

Fire doesn’t discriminate

The mismanagement or underestimating fire can cost lives. There is no excuse not to be prepared for one. Making sure you can operate your business and keep employees and others safe from fire is vital.

By law, every business must manage the risk of fire, and it starts with having a valid fire risk assessment. And that’s where our health and safety team comes in. With extensive experience in fire risk management, we’ll carry out your fire risk assessment and ensure you effectively manage the risk of fire in your building and keep its occupants safe.

As well as in the workplace, a fire risk assessment is required for high-rise flats and tower blocks too. In England and Wales, this is to comply with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. In Scotland, it’s to comply with The Fire Safety Regulations 2006 (Scotland) and in Northern Ireland, The Fire Safety Regulations 2010 (Northern Ireland).

So what is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is a review of a building to assess its fire risk. As well as uncovering any fire safety issues, the assessment will give the property owner (responsible person) a list of recommendations on how to make the building safer, if necessary.

The purpose of a fire risk assessment is to identify the fire risk within a property and look at ways to control and mitigate the risks where possible. Having a valid fire risk assessment protects lives, and gives your employees or residents peace of mind that you’re doing everything you can to prevent the risk of a fire. And thus, save lives.

The onus on managing the assessment falls to the responsible person or the duty holder of the business. A detailed assessment must be created, implemented, and reviewed every 12 months to ensure the occupants are kept safe.

What are the legal guidelines around fire risk assessment?

There’s more to a fire risk assessment than the actual review. There are a few specific legal guidelines you need to be aware of, like:

It must be reviewed regularly

Your building’s fire risk assessment should be reviewed every 12 months, and a new assessment must be done every five years. The 12-month review will look at:

  • Has the building changed substantially?
  • Has the structure or layout changed?
  • Has there been a significant change in the occupants?
  • Has there been notable changes in fire risk loading (items that can enhance fire spreading)

Changes to your building’s layout and structure can have a big impact on its fire safety plans, so a 12 month review must be carried out to check for these changes.

Are there five or more occupants?

If there are five or more people present in your building at any time, you must legally document your fire risk assessment. If your premises are required to have a license, you must also document your assessment.

At The Health & Safety Dept, we’ll provide you with a copy of your assessment regardless, giving you one less thing to worry about and making it easy to communicate the findings with your occupants.

Record the main findings and actions to be taken

A fire risk assessment has two parts. The first is a review that will assess the building, and the second is a list of recommendations to make the building safer. If there are any, the owner (responsible person) of the building must put the recommendations in place to keep its occupants safe.

Who is responsible for making sure the fire risk assessment is carried out?

It is the law for every business and block of flats to have a designated ‘Responsible Person’ accountable for fire safety. It is this person’s job to ensure relevant fire safety duties are carried out. Likewise, that action is taken to prevent fires from happening and that people can safely escape if a fire breaks out. It is also their job to make sure the fire risk assessment is done.

For small businesses, the Responsible Person is often the business owner.

What gets reviewed?

For it to be effective, the fire risk assessment must be comprehensive and include many different fire risk factors.

Every building is different, so what’s included will differ, depending on the building’s size and style. For example, a small shop or a kiosk will have less to review than a block of flats or an office block.

While each assessment is different, the assessor should check the following things:

  1. The building’s use, layout and construction
  2. The number and nature of occupants (including vulnerable occupants)
  3. History of fire loss in the building
  4. Electrical equipment or other sources of ignition
  5. The presence of combustible fuel sources, e.g. paper, wood or gas sources
  6. Areas where oxygen may be present in larger quantities e.g canisters
  7. Smoking areas
  8. Defense against arson
  9. Portable and installed heating devices
  10. All lighting equipment
  11. Storage for any dangerous or flammable liquids
  12. General fire hazards
  13. Escape routes and how they are maintained
  14. Check that emergency lighting is installed and working
  15. Measures in place to limit fire spread
  16. Fire safety signs (location and use of)
  17. Equipment such as fire alarms, sprinklers and fire extinguishers
  18. Checks to make sure regular fire safety training and evacuation drills happen
  19. The correct fire safety documents and records are kept

How can The Health & Safety Dept help me with my fire risk assessment?

By law, only a ‘competent person’ can carry out a fire risk assessment. This is someone who has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience in carrying out fire risk assessments — like our health and safety specialists.

Our health and safety team are based all across the UK and have extensive experience in fire risk management — so rest assured you’re in safe hands. We’ll complete your fire risk assessment and ensure you effectively manage the risk of fire in your building and keep its occupants safe.

Our specialists will detail and record all significant findings and provide recommendations on making the building safer, if necessary. We can also create fire safety action plans, which outline what to do if a fire breaks out. They cover everything from what to do when you notice the fire right through to the evacuation process.

As well as assisting with the fire risk assessment, our expert team can provide additional support long-term, and keep the fire risk assessment updated on an ongoing basis.

You’re in safe hands with The Health & Safety Dept.

Fire Risk Assessment FAQ

Is there a penalty for not having a fire risk assessment?

Whether you own a business or a block of high-rise flats, failing to have the correct fire safety precautions in place is a serious offence that can result in severe fines. Prohibition notices and further legal action.

Can I carry out a fire risk assessment myself?

Fire risk assessments are complex and must be documented clearly. This means they should only be carried out by a person with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience (like one of our qualified health and safety experts). Therefore, you shouldn’t attempt to carry out a fire risk assessment if you haven’t had the correct training.

How can I obtain a copy of the fire risk assessment for my building?

To get a copy of your building’s fire risk assessment, you’ll need to contact your building’s Responsible Person, who is in charge of the fire risk assessment. If you don’t know who the Responsible Person is, you can contact the business owner, landlord, managing agent or the facilities department.

If there isn’t a valid fire risk assessment for your building, you should ask the Responsible Person to have one conducted immediately.

How often must a fire risk assessment be reviewed?

The fire risk assessment needs to be reviewed every 12 months. This will check for any changes to the building’s structure, layout or occupants, which can impact its fire safety plans. A new fire risk assessment is required every five years.

Do you need a fire risk assessment?

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