Fire Risk Assessments

Understand the importance of fire risk assessments for your business. Learn how to identify and assess your premises, and uncover ways you can reduce potential risks.

In the realm of workplace safety, fire risk assessment stands apart as a targeted approach exclusively addressing fire hazards. 

While aligning with the principles of a standard risk assessment, it hones in on fire safety rather than encompassing broader chemical and physical threats.

Who is responsible for conducting fire risk assessments?

The responsibility falls on the ‘responsible person’, typically the owner or occupier of the premises. While they can delegate tasks to someone in charge of fire safety management, the ultimate responsibility lies with the ‘responsible person’. 

In cases where there are multiple responsible persons, cooperation and coordination among parties is crucial.

Fire risk assessment reports adhere to the trusted five-step process recommended by the Home Office and Health and Safety Executive. These are to uncover fire hazards, protect those at risk, minimize dangers, and create an emergency plan with ease. Stay proactive and ensure your fire risk assessment is always up to date.

What is the framework and approach behind fire risk assessments?

Discover the structure and methodology behind fire risk assessments outlined in PAS 79. This industry-standard document provides a systematic approach for assessors to ensure consistency and thoroughness. 

While Part 2 of PAS 79 is under review, Part 1 offers comprehensive guidelines for assessing non-housing premises. The aim of PAS 79 is to record all relevant information and generate a qualitative assessment of fire risk using a nine-step process:

  • Gather information about the premises.
  • Identify potential fire hazards.
  • Assess the likelihood of a fire occurring.
  • Determine necessary fire protection measures for the safety of occupants.
  • Evaluate the premises’ fire safety management.
  • Assess the likely consequences to occupants in the event of a fire.
  • Combine the likelihood of fire and consequences to assess the overall fire risk.
  • Create an action plan based on the assessment.
  • Establish a time frame for revisiting the assessment, assuming no changes to the premises or suspected invalidity of the assessment.

With PAS 79 as your guide, conduct thorough and informed fire risk assessments for optimal safety and compliance.

Why do you need a fire risk assessment?

In adherence to vital legislation like the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales, similar laws in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and the recently approved 2021 Fire Safety Act, non-domestic premises must undergo a comprehensive fire risk assessment

This assessment must be carried out by a competent individual who possesses the essential knowledge, training, and experience to ensure compliance. Don’t overlook the importance of this crucial evaluation to safeguard lives and protect property. 

Plus, with the expanded scope of the Fire Safety Act, including external walls of residential buildings and flat entrance doors, specialist expertise may be required. Stay informed and stay safe with a thorough fire risk assessment.

What gets reviewed in a fire risk assessment?

Ensure a thorough review of Fire Risk Assessments by considering various fire risk factors. The level of detail in each review depends on the complexity of the building. While every assessment differs, assessors check the following fire risk and prevention factors:

  • Building use, layout, and construction
  • Number and nature of occupants, including vulnerable individuals
  • History of fire loss in the building
  • Presence of electrical equipment that may cause ignition
  • Smoking areas and measures to prevent smoking-related fires
  • Protection against arson
  • Portable and installed heating devices that could trigger fires
  • Defenses against fires caused by lightning
  • General housekeeping and removal of combustible materials from key areas
  • Fire hazards introduced by building works or outside contractors
  • Storage arrangements for dangerous or flammable liquids
  • Configuration and maintenance of escape routes
  • Measures to limit fire spread, such as compartmentalization
  • Correct installation and functioning of emergency lighting
  • Proper use and placement of fire safety signs
  • Adequate alarm systems in case of fire
  • Appropriate placement of fire extinguishers
  • Correct installation and upkeep of additional devices, like sprinklers
  • Building’s fire safety management and its effectiveness
  • Regular fire safety training and evacuation drills
  • Maintenance and testing procedures for fire safety systems
  • Documentation and record-keeping of fire safety measures.

Enhance your fire safety with a comprehensive fire risk assessment

Curious about what a fire risk assessment entails? It consists of five crucial steps outlined by UK legislation. Here’s a simplified breakdown:

  • Identify fire hazards
  • Assess the risks to people
  • Evaluate and minimize risks
  • Document findings and create an emergency plan
  • Regularly review and update the assessment

Keep in mind that this is just a basic overview. Larger or more complex facilities may require additional information, and different industries may have specific guidelines tailored to their unique risks.

If you need expert support, there is always tons of information online regarding fire risk assessments including guidance on:

  • Premises description and use
  • People at risk
  • Arson/fire history
  • Fire hazards and preventive measures
  • Sources of ignition, fuel, and oxygen
  • Means of escape
  • Compartmentation and fire separation
  • Fire detection and warning system
  • Emergency lighting
  • Portable and fixed fire fighting equipment
  • Facilities for fire and rescue services
  • Signage
  • Emergency plan
  • Fire safety information and training
  • Testing and maintenance
  • Management and record-keeping
  • Action plan

Enhance your fire safety measures with a comprehensive fire risk assessment. Contact us today.

How often should you conduct fire risk assessments?

While there is no specific timeframe mandated by legislation, we highly recommend conducting a commercial fire risk assessment annually to assess the fire risk at your premises. 

However, given the current circumstances, it is advisable to conduct assessments more frequently, ideally every 12 months, to ensure that any changes in staffing, layout, and operational considerations such as social distancing, resulting from business closures or modifications due to the Coronavirus, are adequately addressed.

Regular reviews are a must: The Fire Risk Assessment should be reviewed regularly. It is recommended to conduct a review:

  • Every 12 months after the initial assessment
  • Every 5 years by conducting a new assessment
  • If the building’s purpose has substantially changed
  • If there have been significant changes in the building’s structure or occupants

Importance of completing a fire risk assessment

By conducting a thorough assessment, you’ll ensure the best fire safety policy is in place, potentially saving lives. Don’t ignore fire safety until it becomes an immediate threat – fires can happen unexpectedly. 

Shockingly, there were 253 fire-related fatalities last year, but conducting regular risk assessments can help reduce this number.

Gain peace of mind by completing a thorough fire risk assessment. Identify and address potential hazards, ensuring a safer space for all. 

Regularly reviewing your assessment is crucial for ongoing safety. No need to worry when it’s all taken care of.

How to conduct a fire risk assessment most effectively?

Ensure that your fire risk assessment is practical, systematic, and thorough by allocating sufficient time for its completion. Remember to encompass the entirety of your premises, both indoors and outdoors, including infrequently used areas. 

Smaller premises can be assessed as a whole, while larger ones may benefit from division into individual rooms or assessments based on natural boundaries.

Designate one or more competent individuals to oversee the implementation of necessary preventive and protective measures, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. This person can be yourself, a well-trained employee, or an appropriate third party.

Your risk assessment should demonstrate that you have accounted for the needs of all relevant individuals, including those with disabilities, to the best of your ability.

Fire hazards: Identifying and mitigating risks

Understanding the fire tetrahedron and common causes of fires is vital for recognizing potential fire hazards. To prevent fires, it is crucial to keep ignition sources, fuel, and oxygen separate or eliminate them. 

By identifying possible ignition sources, fuel, and oxygen in the workplace, you can minimize risks to both people and your business.

Ignition sources: Identifying the hidden dangers

Every workplace contains sources of heat or flame, some more obvious than others. Obvious sources include cooking equipment and open flames, while less apparent sources can stem from chemical processes or electrical equipment.

Possible ignition sources:

  • Defective electrical fittings and apparatus
  • Matches, lighters, candles, and smoking materials
  • Flames or sparks from work processes like welding or grinding
  • Frictional heat
  • Electrostatic discharges
  • Ovens, kilns, furnaces, or incinerators
  • Boilers, engines, and oil-burning equipment
  • Portable heaters
  • Cooking equipment, including deep-fat fryers
  • Arson threats

Fuel sources and unsafe situations

Identifying combustibles and risky conditions

All combustibles can be categorized into two main groups: combustible fuels like paper and wood, and highly combustible fuels such as solvents and polyurethane foam. Additionally, unsafe procedures and conditions can contribute to increased fire risks.

Potential Fuel Sources and Unsafe Situations:

  • Combustible materials
  • Unsafe acts, such as smoking near combustibles
  • Unsafe conditions, like flammable materials or open stairs that facilitate rapid fire spread

Don’t Overlook the Power of Good Housekeeping

One often overlooked hazard is poor housekeeping, which is also the easiest to address. Neglecting cleanliness can lead to unnecessary fires that not only start but also spread rapidly, engulfing larger areas of the premises.

What is the cost of a Fire Risk Assessment?

Starting from just £100, with Focus 360 Energy, you’ll receive competitively priced services tailored to the size and complexity of your property. Plus, enjoy discounts for multiple properties. Get peace of mind at an affordable price.

What if I fail to have a Fire Risk Assessment?

Don’t overlook the importance of a Fire Risk Assessment – your business depends on it! Neglecting fire safety measures and skipping the assessment can lead to hefty fines and even potential jail time if a fire breaks out and negligence is proven. 

Take action now to protect your company and avoid the consequences.

Ready to get started?

Our online system makes it easy to schedule an assessment, and our team of assessors will guide you through the process.

Post written by: Sam Guest

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