How To Do a Fire Risk Assessment
A fire risk assessment is one of the fundamentals of good fire safety practice, as well as being a legal requirement under the terms of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
This applies to all commercial buildings, including blocks of flats and HMOs – basically, if a property is not a ‘single private dwelling’, then a fire risk assessment needs to be carried out. Reviews should be conducted annually thereafter, or sooner if there is a change in the layout or usage of the building, or if there are new risks associated with particular individuals.
These assessments have been designed to provide an in-depth analysis of all the fire risks within a commercial building, together with steps for mitigating those risks. But what exactly does that involve and what’s the best way of getting one done?
What does a fire risk assessment involve?
There are five steps to a fire risk assessment:
- Identify fire hazards: how and where could a fire start, and what materials are potential sources or fuels for a fire?
- Identify people at risk: how many people are there in the building? Will anyone need special assistance in the event of a fire (e.g. young people and those with mobility issues)? Will those working in noisy environments be able to hear a fire alarm?
- Evaluate and act: can the risks and hazards you’ve identified be mitigated? Here you want to think about reducing the risk of a fire starting and how you would deal with an actual fire. This could be by adopting the use of appropriate fire detection and control equipment, such as fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire doors, emergency lighting, etc. You also want to make sure that there are escape routes for all occupants.
- Record, plan and train: now you know what the risks are and how they can be managed, you need to record your findings, prepare a plan for an emergency and provide appropriate training to your staff.
- Review: at least once a year, review your fire risk assessment and update or amend it as necessary.
Can you do a fire risk assessment yourself?
In theory, you could do your own fire risk assessment, but you have to count as a ‘competent’ person who can do a ‘suitable and sufficient’ job. If this isn’t you, and you don’t have anyone else in your organisation who meets the required levels of competency, then you’re far better off getting a professional in to do the job (we covered this question in more depth in this previous article).
If you do decide to go ahead and do your own fire risk assessment, a guide to the steps required and a checklist can be downloaded from the HSE website.
Who checks my fire risk assessment and what happens if I make mistakes?
Your local fire and rescue service can enter your premises at any time and check that they meet the required standards for fire safety. If you can’t demonstrate that you have conducted a fire risk assessment, you are likely to be fined. If they find that there are significant risks, you may be subject to an enforcement order or even closed down if the risks are particularly significant.
Fire safety is not something to take chances with – unless your business is very small or you’re 100% confident that you have the required skills and knowledge to do the job properly, we would always recommend getting experts in to do your fire risk assessment.
Why should I opt for a professional fire risk assessment?
An experienced fire risk assessment provider is by far the best option for most businesses for a number of reasons:
- Because they are experienced, professionals know exactly what to look for. By doing the job regularly, they’ll be able to quickly identify what constitutes a risk and what the best way of mitigating that risk is likely to be.
- If you’re assessing your own premises, it’s a place you’re probably going to be very familiar with. You might not think twice about things you see every day, whereas someone coming in and seeing the place for the first time could well see things very differently.
- In the event of a fire, your insurance company is likely to be far less inclined to pay up if it turns out your fire risk assessment has not been done by a trained expert.
- Although you may consider yourself a ‘competent’ person in the field of fire safety, if something happens and you get inspected by your local fire and rescue service, you may get quizzed as to why. If you can’t provide satisfactory evidence of your suitability, that could also lead to potential prosecution and fines.
Here at Scutum London, we’ve been managing fire safety for businesses across South East England, including in and around London and Surrey, for many years. All our operatives carrying out fire risk assessments are fully trained to PAS79, giving you the comfort and confidence that comes with knowing that your premises will get a professional examination designed to keep you, your staff and your assets better protected.
Get in touch with us now to find out more or to request a free quotation for your fire risk assessment now.
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About Scutum London
Scutum London is a leading expert in fire safety and security solutions for businesses and organisations located across South East England, including London and Surrey.
From fire alarms, fire extinguishers and fire risk assessments to access control, CCTV and intruder alarm systems – and a lot more besides – we offer a comprehensive range of products and services designed to keep you, your business and your staff and visitors safe.
With decades of industry experience to call on, we’re proud to hold accreditations from leading trade associations and bodies such as British Approvals for Fire Equipment (BAFE), the British Fire Consortium, the Fire Industry Association (FIA) and Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB).
If you’d like to find out more about Scutum London, get in touch with our friendly team or explore our products and services on our site.