Updated: Aug 19, 2022
By law, all commercial properties and apartment buildings must undergo a Fire Risk Assessment.
This crucial fire safety practice is not widely understood.
We are frequently asked, "What is a Fire Risk Assessment?" In reality, your Fire Risk Assessment should be the backbone of your building's fire protection plans.
However, evaluations are frequently neglected, resulting in structures being unnecessarily exposed to fire risk, sometimes posing a risk of fatalities.
You may read more about Fire Risk Assessments below, or if you would like to discuss the specific requirements for your building, don't hesitate to contact our professional team.
What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
A fire risk assessment is, at its most fundamental level, an examination of a building that assesses its fire risk and provides recommendations to make it safer, if necessary.
If there are less than five residents in a property, a Fire Risk Assessment is not required to be documented; hence it is not required.
However, we would always advocate having a formal Fire Risk Assessment, as this is the easiest method to share the results and ensure that the recommendations have been implemented.
What are the legal guidelines for evaluations?
There are specific guidelines for Fire Risk Assessments.
It must be evaluated frequently. We recommend reviewing as follows: – At 12-month intervals after the initial evaluation – NB Every five years, a new assessment must be conducted if: – The structure of the building has changed, such as the layout; – The building's function has changed significantly; – The character of the tenants has changed substantially. Changes in the property's structure, use, or occupants can dramatically impact your fire safety plans, so completing a Fire Risk Assessment review is essential if any of these occur.
There must be documentation if there are five or more regular inhabitants.
For example, if your business or apartment complex typically has more than four occupants, you are required by law to document your Fire Risk Assessment.
Nevertheless, as previously stated, we would always recommend documenting your assessment, regardless of the size of your property.
There are a few more instances where you must document your Fire Risk Assessment even if you have fewer than five regular tenants. These are: – If the property requires a license; – If the fire department instructs you to (following a visit, for example)
It must document the key results and proposed next steps.
Whether recorded or not, a Fire Risk Assessment must consist of two components.
First, the review itself will evaluate the facilities' fire safety based on various criteria.
The second is a list of recommendations that must be implemented for the structure to be fire safety compliant.
It is of the utmost importance to adhere to these suggestions, as they are ultimately what will ensure the safety of your facility.
Who is accountable for ensuring that a Fire Risk Assessment is conducted?
Every business and apartment building is required by law to have a "Responsible Person" who is accountable for fire safety.
The designated Responsible Person ensures that the necessary fire safety obligations are carried out. That action is taken to avoid fires and prevent injury or death if a fire occurs.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Responsible Person to ensure that your building has a legitimate Fire Risk Assessment.
Unless you have designated a staff member as the Responsible Person for your premises, you are responsible if you own a small business.
The Responsible Person is typically the landlord or managing agent, although they may also be a member of the Residents' Association if you live in a flat or tower block.
In apartment buildings, the Responsible Person is only responsible for common areas, such as hallways and stairwells. The resident is responsible for ensuring that their apartment is fire-safe.
How can I obtain a copy of the Fire Risk Assessment for my building?
Your fundamental right as a building resident is to access the Fire Risk Assessment for your property if you so want.
Your initial point of contact should be the building's Responsible Person. If you are uncertain, the business owner, the facilities department, the landlord, or the managing agent are good places to start.
If you discover that your building lacks a valid Fire Risk Assessment, you should immediately request that your Responsible Person do one.
If you believe that the Responsible Person for your building is not taking your concerns seriously, you may, as a last resort, contact your local fire department.
However, please do not contact the fire department with petty complaints, as they are swamped. Moreover, avoid calling the 999 emergency hotline! You can discover the general inquiries number for your local fire department on the internet.
What is examined?
Fire Risk Assessments should be thorough and consider many fire risk elements.
The level of depth in an individual review will determine the building's complexity. For example, a single-compartment building, such as a tiny shop or kiosk, will have significantly fewer components to analyze than a significant office building or even a block of apartments.
While each assessment is unique, the assessor should always check the following fire risk and fire prevention factors:
1. The building's usage, layout, and structure
2. The number and type of occupants, as well as any susceptible occupants
3. Is there a history of fire losses in the building?
4. On-site electrical equipment that could be a cause of ignition
5. Smoking zones and actions made to avoid smoking-related fires
6. Protection against arson
7. Portable and mounted heating devices that can cause fires
Protection against lightning-caused fires
9. General cleaning and keeping combustible objects out of vital places
10. Any fire hazards caused by construction or outside contractors
11. The measures for storing any dangerous/flammable liquids
12. The configuration and maintenance of evacuation routes
13. Fire prevention measures, such as compartmentalization
14. The emergency lights are correctly fitted and operational.
15. The proper use and placement of fire safety signs
16. There are enough means of raising the alarm in the event of a fire (see our blog post 'do I need a fire alarm?')
17. The appropriate fire extinguishers are in the appropriate locations (see our blog post: "fire extinguisher rules")
18. Proper installation and upkeep of additional devices, such as sprinklers
19. Who manages the building's fire safety, and how well?
20. Is there regular fire safety training and evacuation drills?
21. That proper fire safety system maintenance and testing processes are in place 22. That adequate paperwork and records of fire safety measures are retained
Who is qualified to conduct a fire risk assessment?
According to legal criteria, a 'competent person' can conduct a Fire Risk Assessment. However, this does not necessarily imply that you must hire a skilled Fire Risk Assessor.
It does, however, imply that whoever conducts your Fire Risk Assessment should feel at ease analyzing your premises against all the abovementioned variables.
They should also be able to do the following:
- Document any significant findings clearly and in detail - Create a fire safety action plan and document the activities if changes are required - Implement the action plan if necessary - Keep the fire risk assessment up to date regularly.
We strongly advise utilizing a professional Fire Risk Assessor for all but the most basic premises.
Professional Fire Risk Assessors receive extensive training and are thoroughly conversant with the most current regulatory standards and recommendations and how to apply them to various types of buildings.
What is the cost of failing to conduct a fire risk assessment?
The penalty for failing to do a Fire Risk Assessment and, in particular, failing to execute the proper fire safety safeguards is prosecution, which can result in hefty penalties or, in extreme situations, a prison sentence.
We hope you found this information in 'what is a Fire Risk Assessment?' helpful.
If you would like to speak with one of our specialist assessors regarding your company premises, tower block, or block of flats, or if you would like to book a Fire Risk Assessment, please call us on 0800 014 6728 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't delay, book your Fire Risk Assessment today