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Fire Risk Assessment Types

By law, any licensed premises with five or more regular occupants must undergo a fire risk assessment (FRA). This requirement applies to various buildings, including apartment buildings, factories, and office buildings. Different types of fire risk assessments can be conducted. To learn more about fire risk assessments, their process, and the various types available, continue reading our informative guide.

What are the four types of fire risk assessment

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment (FRA) examines the likelihood of a fire occurring in a building, the potential risks to individuals inside the building in the event of a fire, and the existing measures to prevent fires. The FRA also identifies any additional measures that should be implemented to enhance the building's fire safety and reduce risks for occupants.

The management of fire safety is an ongoing responsibility. Employers of workplace premises and landlords must regularly monitor and update fire safety policies. If the person in charge of the premises cannot conduct a fire risk assessment themselves, they can hire someone with the necessary skills, experience, and knowledge.

Following Government Guidelines, the process of conducting a fire risk assessment is structured around a comprehensive examination of five principal elements to ensure the safety of occupants and the building:

1. Identifying Fire Hazards: This step involves a meticulous search for potential sources of fire within the premises. It includes locating combustible materials, identifying possible ignition sources (such as electrical equipment or open flames), and recognizing any activities that could contribute to fire development or spread. It also involves checking for the proper storage and handling of flammable substances.

2. Identifying People at Risk: Once potential hazards are noted, the next step is to determine who may be at risk in the event of a fire. This includes everyone present in the building, with particular attention given to vulnerable individuals such as the elderly, children, or those with disabilities. Factors such as occupancy levels and the presence of visitors or contractors are also considered.

3. Evaluating, Removing, or Reducing Risks: This crucial step involves analyzing the identified hazards and risks to develop strategies to eliminate or reduce them to an acceptable level. This could mean implementing fire detection systems, ensuring adequate means of escape, providing fire extinguishers, and ensuring all fire safety equipment is easily accessible and well-maintained.

4. Recording Findings, Preparing an Emergency Plan, and Providing Training: The findings of the fire risk assessment are then formally recorded, detailing the hazards identified, the people at risk, and the measures proposed or already in place to manage these risks. A clear emergency plan must be devised, highlighting evacuation procedures and assembly points. Training staff and residents on how to act in case of a fire is also critical.

5. Reviewing and Updating the FRA Accordingly: Fire risk assessments are not one-time tasks; they must be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect any changes in the use of the building, its occupants, or the risks present. This ensures that the fire risk assessment remains current and that all safety measures are effective and in line with any new requirements or circumstances that may arise.

There are also additional considerations to take into account:

Emergency Routes and Exits: A thorough evaluation of the escape routes and emergency exits is necessary to guarantee that they are appropriately located, clearly marked, and free from obstructions. This includes verifying that exit doors open quickly, escape routes are well-lit, and signs are visible even in smoky conditions.

Fire Detection and Warning Systems: The adequacy of existing fire detection and warning systems must be assessed. This involves ensuring fire alarms are in good working order, have an appropriate sound level, and are tested regularly. The placement of smoke detectors and manual call points should also be evaluated for effectiveness.

Firefighting Equipment (such as extinguishers): The availability and accessibility of firefighting equipment like extinguishers, fire blankets, or hose reels must be checked. This equipment should be suitable for the types of fires that could occur, easily accessible, clearly marked, and routinely maintained.

Removal or Safe Storage of Dangerous Substances: Proper measures should be taken to remove or securely store flammable, combustible, or explosive materials. This includes ensuring that such substances are kept in appropriate containers and storage areas with clear labelling and sufficient ventilation.

An Emergency Fire Evacuation Plan: A clearly defined emergency fire evacuation plan must be established, detailing the actions occupants should take in case of a fire. This plan should include information on primary and secondary evacuation routes, assembly points outside the building, and procedures for accounting for all individuals.

Catering to the Needs of Vulnerable Individuals (e.g., elderly, children, people with disabilities): Special arrangements must be in place for vulnerable individuals who may require assistance during an evacuation. This could involve personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs) or ensuring staff members are trained to assist those who cannot self-evacuate.

Staff Fire Safety Training: It is vital to provide comprehensive fire safety training to staff members. Training should cover how to prevent fires, respond in the event of a fire, use firefighting equipment, and assist in an evacuation.

Providing Information to Individuals on the Premises (occupants, employees): Clear communication is key in maintaining fire safety. All individuals on the premises should be informed about fire risks, emergency procedures, and their roles during an evacuation. This can be achieved through regular briefings, visible signage, and written materials provided to all relevant parties.

Types of fire risk assessment

Fire risk assessment types

There are four main types of residential fire risk assessments based on the level of risk and the extent of inspection required. A type 4 fire risk assessment is the most comprehensive, involving the most thorough testing techniques.

However, different types of fire risk assessments exist for residential properties depending on the level of risk. These include:

Type 1 fire risk assessment (common parts - non-destructive)

The Type 1 fire risk assessment represents the foundational level of fire safety evaluation mandated by the Fire Safety Order (FSO). It is specifically focused on the communal areas of a building without causing any damage to the structure during the inspection process. This essential fire risk assessment is characterized by a thorough visual examination that evaluates the effectiveness and reliability of existing escape routes and emergency exits to ensure occupants can safely evacuate during a fire outbreak.

During the Type 1 fire risk assessment, particular attention is given to the shared entry and exit points of apartment buildings. However, it is essential to note that this initial level of assessment does not involve entering or inspecting the interior of individual apartments. It is limited to the common parts of the property.

Additionally, the assessment includes a detailed inspection of areas with concealed spaces, such as those with false ceilings, where fire could spread unnoticed or where deficiencies in fire prevention measures might be hidden. This is crucial for identifying potential risks that are not immediately visible in everyday use but could have severe implications during a fire.

Once the Type 1 FRA is completed, the assessor compiles a comprehensive report that outlines any observed fire safety concerns and the current state of fire safety measures within the common areas of the building. This report will also specify recommendations for improvements or suggest additional, more intrusive types of assessments, if necessary, to gain a more in-depth understanding of the fire risks within the building structure or individual residential units. These further assessments may range from Type 2 to Type 4, each escalating in detail and invasiveness. Type 4 FRAs involve destructive inspection methods to uncover risks within concealed areas such as wall cavities or above suspended ceilings.

Type 2 fire risk assessment (common parts - destructive)

The Type 2 fire risk assessment is an enhanced level of scrutiny that goes beyond the visual inspection of a Type 1 assessment. It is characterized by its invasive approach, involving the examination of the building's fabric to uncover potential fire risks that may not be visible during a non-destructive inspection.

During a Type 2 assessment, a qualified contractor or specialist may be needed to systematically access concealed areas within the common parts of the building. This process might include removing panels, ceilings, or walls to inspect the condition and compliance of hidden structural elements, electrical conduits, and fire-stopping measures. These areas must be checked for integrity and effectiveness in preventing or slowing the spread of fire and smoke.

Since this type of assessment can cause damage to the property, it's typically recommended for vacant properties or during periods when disruption will have a minimal impact on occupants. The need for such an invasive procedure could arise from the findings of a Type 1 assessment, concerns raised by residents, changes in building regulations, or as part of a scheduled comprehensive risk management program.

Upon inspection completion, any areas opened or damaged for the assessment must be repaired and returned to their previous state, ensuring that the building's fire safety measures are restored and enhanced if deficiencies are found.

All findings from a Type 2 fire risk assessment, whether minor issues like gaps in fire-stopping measures or major concerns like structural vulnerabilities, will be thoroughly documented in a detailed report. This report will provide recommendations for rectifying any identified problems and improving the building's fire safety. The report is an official record demonstrating compliance with fire safety regulations and guiding future maintenance and risk assessment actions.

Type 3 fire risk assessment (common parts and flats - non-destructive)

The Type 3 fire risk assessment represents an expansion of the scope found in Type 1 assessments to include both the common parts of the building and the interior of individual flats, though it remains non-destructive. This more comprehensive assessment is designed to thoroughly evaluate fire safety within shared and private living spaces without causing any damage to the property.

During a Type 3 FRA, the assessor will examine the means of escape within the flats, ensuring clear and accessible routes for residents to evacuate in case of a fire. This includes checking that internal pathways are free of obstructions and that exit doors can be easily opened without using keys or special knowledge.

In addition, to escape routes, the fire resistance of doors within each flat is scrutinized. The assessor looks for doors capable of withstanding fire for a sufficient period, typically by checking if they are properly fitted and sealed and if they close correctly to prevent the rapid spread of smoke and flames.

Fire alarms and all fire warning systems within the flats are also included in the inspection process. This involves verifying that smoke detectors and fire alarms are present, correctly placed, functional, and provide adequate coverage throughout the flat. It also may involve checking that residents have been informed about how to maintain and test their alarms regularly.

Type 3 FRAs aim to ensure that the common areas of a building are safe from fire risks and that individual living spaces adhere to fire safety standards, providing a comprehensive approach to protecting all occupants and property from the threat of fire. Upon completion, a detailed report is provided outlining any potential vulnerabilities along with recommendations for improving fire safety measures within both the flats and common areas.

Type 4 fire risk assessment (common parts and flats - destructive)

During a Type 4 FRA, specialists are engaged to examine the structural integrity and fire safety measures of a building beyond what is visible. This involves a detailed inspection process where contractors selectively open up parts of the building, such as walls, ceilings, and floors, to access critical areas that could be potential fire risks. The objective is to inspect the effectiveness of built-in fire-stopping measures, the condition of structural fire protection, and any breaches that might compromise the building's ability to resist and contain a fire.

This assessment often focuses on specific points where fire-stopping is critical, such as service risers, voids, and joints between fire-resisting elements. Contractors may remove sections of drywall or other materials to examine the quality and condition of fire barriers, seals, and other protective components.

Given the destructive nature of Type 4 FRAs, they are best conducted in vacant properties or during periods when disturbance to occupants can be minimized. The assessment can also be scheduled during planned refurbishment activities when some aspects of the building may already be exposed.

Once the inspection is complete and all vulnerabilities have been identified, the contractor is responsible for repairing any damage caused by the assessment to restore the building's safety and integrity. This might include reinstating fire-stopping measures or improving upon them if deficiencies were found.

The comprehensive findings from this assessment are meticulously documented in a report detailing any issues discovered during the inspection. The report provides actionable recommendations for remedial work to enhance fire safety within shared and private spaces, ensuring strict compliance with fire safety regulations and peace of mind for all occupants.

Certified Fire Risk Assessments by Metro PAT

Metro PAT is certified to conduct Fire Risk Assessments. This means we can carry out all types of fire risk assessments to ensure high-quality work. We have experience conducting fire risk assessments in various industries, including banks, hospitals, pubs and restaurants, theatres, retail units, residential buildings, libraries, schools, colleges, and universities.

If you need expert fire safety advice or a fire risk assessment for your premises, contact Metro PAT today at 0800 014 6728.

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