What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
Everyone within a business is busy; they’ve got things to do and places to be. No one within the workplace sets out to cause a fire or create a danger to themselves and other employees. However, without proper fire safety precautions and procedures, the dangers stack up. These dangers can cause serious risk of fire or impede evacuation during emergencies.
It only takes a few boxes in a fire escape route to impede evacuation. It only takes a ‘few extra’ plug socket extensions. It only takes someone to forget to schedule an extinguisher service, for things to go very badly during a fire.
This is exactly the sort of danger that a Fire Risk Assessment is put in place to avoid and protect against. Before the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, fire safety in the United Kingdom was covered by roughly 70 pieces of legislation; namely the Fire Precautions Act 1961 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997/1991.
A fire risk assessment is segmented into 5 distinct areas that need to be considered during a fire risk assessment.
1. Identify the fire hazards
The first and most prominent area of a fire risk assessment investigates and identifies potential fire hazards. Now might be a good time to read our post that outlines the difference between a fire hazard and a fire risk. Fire hazards are dangers that could potentially cause a fire, affect its spread, impede evacuation during a fire etc.
2. Identify people at risk
Secondly, a fire risk assessment identifies the levels of risk for people that are in your business – employees, customers, other businesses etc. The fire risk assessment identifies the parties that are most at risk, based on their schedule, knowledge of the building, age etc.
3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risk
This step takes the two previous steps into consideration, evaluates the information and puts steps forward to reduce or remove the risk. We begin by evaluating the risks of fire from the fire hazards and the danger to the people at risk. What are the risks of a fire starting, and what are the risks to people in the building and nearby?
Next, steps are put in place to remove or reduce these risks as best as possible. Could a source of heat ignite something nearby? Are emergency exit routes well illuminated and free from obstruction?
4. Record findings, prepare emergency plan and provide training
Proper documentation and record keeping is absolutely key within a business’s fire safety protocols. A record should be kept of the identified fire hazards and what you have done to reduce or remove them.
This step also puts forward a clear plan of how to prevent fire and how to keep the people within the business safe. It’s important to note, that if you share a building with other businesses they should be consulted as part of the Fire Risk Assessment.
Finally, staff need to be fully trained in their responsibilities and actions in the event of a fire
5. Review and update
Your Fire Risk Assessment should be periodically reviewed and updated because operations and risks may change over time. Have you changed any work practices? Had a fire or a close call? Built an extension or changed the use of an area? Taken on more staff? These are all reasons why a fire risk assessment should be reviewed regularly. Sometimes we also find that good fire safety practices have become neglected with time.
A fire risk assessment, particularly in larger more complicated businesses, is a difficult undertaking. If you don’t know the intricacies and the dangers to look for, there could be glaring holes in your fire safety or evacuation plan.
Our fire risk assessment services are fully comprehensive and flexible around your business. We’ll assess everything within your business for fire safety and ensure that there are sufficient and effective plans and training in place in the event of a fire.