Fire Risk Assessment

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

A fire risk assessment is a process involving the systematic evaluation of the factors that determine the hazard from fire, the likelihood that there will be a fire and the consequences if one were to occur.

 

Is it required by law?

Yes. There are few exceptions.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, a fire risk assessment is necessary in virtually all buildings in England and Wales, other than domestic dwellings. Similar requirements apply in Scotland under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, and in Northern Ireland under the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.

Can I carry it out myself?

Yes, if you consider you have the competence to do so.

We are normally employed either when a client does not have the necessary competence or when they do not have the time or resources to conduct the fire risk assessment themselves.

 

What skills are required to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment?

The person carrying out the fire risk assessment should be competent to do so.

A competent person may be regarded as a person with sufficient training and experience, knowledge or other qualities, to enable him or her to carry out a defined task properly.

To assure you of the competence of our staff, it is our policy that consultants undertaking fire risk assessments have suitable experience and qualifications.

What is involved?

A fire risk assessment involves a physical inspection of the building to determine the adequacy of the existing fire precautions and the need for any additional measures. However, of equal importance to the physical inspection is a review of fire safety management in the organisation and consideration of the human factors – how people will respond to an emergency and whether they will take appropriate action.

There are practical limits to the extent of the survey and evaluation of the fire precautions. For example, in undertaking a fire risk assessment, we would not carry out detailed engineering evaluation or testing of fire protection systems, emergency escape lighting, etc. However, we would inspect such systems visually. Where appropriate, we would identify the need for any further engineering evaluation, which we would be able to carry out if required.

Similarly, the survey of the construction of the building would extend to readily accessible areas of the building only. We would not undertake destructive exposure. While we would inspect above false ceilings, where possible, this would be on a sampling basis only. Again, if we considered that more thorough examination of such areas was necessary, we would highlight this to you.

There may be a requirement to complete a destructive survey on the communal areas of flats or apartments, even within the flats themselves. These are categorised as Type 1, 2, 3 and 4 assessments, further information on these can be provided on request.

In the case of a fire risk assessment aimed at satisfying the requirements of legislation, the objective of the risk assessment will primarily be the safety of the occupants of the building.

While some of the recommendations we may make could also be beneficial to property protection, we would not be specifically addressing this objective or the objective of avoiding business interruption from fire. However, we do have the expertise to address these objectives, if required.

What does it cover?

The scope of the survey involved in a fire risk assessment would include the following particular aspects of fire safety:

  • Fire loss experience.

  • Arrangements for management of fire safety.

  • Fire procedures.

  • Training and drills.

  • Testing and maintenance.

  • Records.

  • Fire hazards.

  • Fire prevention.

  • Storage and handling of flammable liquids and gases.

  • Means of escape.

  • Compartmentation.

  • Flammability of linings.

  • Emergency escape lighting.

  • Fire safety signs and notices.

  • Fire detection and fire alarm systems.

  • Fire extinguishing systems and appliances.

  • Smoke control systems.

  • Facilities for use by the fire and rescue service.

When does it need to be reviewed?

The fire risk assessment process is intended to be dynamic, and take into account change. Fire risk assessments should therefore be reviewed from time to time or if there is a reason to suspect that it is no longer valid, and, in particular, if significant changes take place, such as an increase in the numbers of people in the building or changes to floor layouts.

Fire risk assessments should also be reviewed after a fire. We will give a suggested date for review in our reports. A review does not necessarily involve repeating the fire risk assessment process. A judgment on this is required based on the significance of the changes.

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