All you need to know about Fire Risk Assessments, and how they should be conducted properly
What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
Despite being the core of fire safety plans, business owners often overlook risk assessments. An FRA is a thorough review of a building that assesses potential fire risks and recommendations on how to reduce or remove hazards that could impede evacuation.
If the building has fewer than 5 regular occupants, the FRA doesn’t need to be a physical document. However, we strongly recommend that you keep a physical copy of your FRA so you can make the necessary changes, and it can be reviewed in the future. If your premises is licenced, you must have a physical FRA.
- The purpose of the building has changed
- The building’s structure has been significantly changed
- There has been an increase in occupancy
If any of these changes happen, you need to conduct a new, physical, FRA as soon as possible.
Do I need to do a Fire Risk Assessment?
The fire authorities are the main agency responsible for enforcing all fire-safety legislation. Many other organisations, such as insurance companies, require full compliance in order to issue cover, licences or third party certification.
Failure to comply with the Fire Safety Order can result in a number of actions being taken by the authorities. If the failures are low risk an Informal Notification may be issued recommending changes that should be made. If there are serious breaches of compliance more formal steps will be taken. These can range from Enforcement Notices through to prosecution including monetary fines and even prison sentences.
What is included in a Fire Risk Assessment?
A Fire Risk Assessment document is split into two main parts:
PART 1 – The assessment of the premises’ fire safety.
PART 2 – Requirements that must be acted upon comply with fire safety measures.
The length of the assessment can vary depending on the size and complexity of the building. An FRA for a one compartment building is much simpler than a block of flats or office building, although they should both be as thorough as possible.
The assessment itself is a 5 step process:
|Step 1||What are the Fire Hazards?||Look for sources of ignition and/or sources of fuel, no matter how obvious.|
|Step 2||Who is at Risk?||Employees, members of the public in or around your premises.
Some people may be especially at risk due to impairment.
|Step 3||Evaluate, Remove, Reduce, Protect||Consider the risk of a fire starting and the risk to people. Remove or reduce fire hazards and protect by taking fire precautions.|
|Step 4||Record, Plan, Inform, Instruct, Train||Record findings, take action to reduce risk, discuss with other responsible people. Prepare an emergency plan. Make sure everyone who uses the premises is aware of the plan and train individuals as required.|
|Step 5||Review||Review and check your plans at least once a year. Remember to update it to include any changes.|
Every FRA is unique, but here is a list of all fire prevention and fire risk factors that should be checked by the assessors:
- Emergency Routes and Exits
- Fire Detection and Warning Systems
- Firefighting Equipment
- Removal and storage of Dangerous Substances
- Fire Evacuation Plan(s)
- The needs of vulnerable people, for example the elderly, young children, or those with disabilities
- Providing information to employees or anyone using the premises
- Staff Fire Safety Training
Who is responsible for Fire Risk Assessments?
Every premises has a Responsible Person. They are in charge of complying with fire safety law and must take all possible precautions to ensure the safety of all employees, residents and/or visitors to their premises.
Usually, it is clear who is the Responsible Person, but for larger premises multiple people could have the role. You can be the Responsible Person if:
- You are an employer
- You are self-employed and occupy premises
- You are a landlord
- You are a managing agent
In shared premises there will often be more than one Responsible Person. They will need to co-ordinate fire safety plans to make sure everyone is safe. In these cases, the FRA should be copied and shared with all responsible persons.
What Businesses Need a Fire Risk Assessment?
By law, nearly all premises require a Fire Risk Assessment. These include:
- Offices and Shops
- Shopping centres
- Premises that provide care, including care homes and hospitals
- Community centres and shared spaces like libraries
- Places of worship
- Residential Buildings*
- Pubs and clubs
- Cafes and restaurants
- Sports centres
- Tents and marquees
- Hotels and hostels
- Factories and warehouses
*Housing laws may also apply. The residence will need a FRA created by the owner/resident, whereas the shared spaces like stairways, corridors and lobbies will need FRAs created by the landlord or building owner.
Can I conduct a Fire Risk Assessment myself?
If you are the Responsible Person, you can legally conduct your Fire Risk Assessment yourself. However, if it is your first one for the premises, we strongly recommend getting some professional help to ensure all bases are covered.
A thorough inspection of premises takes time, so you should hire professionals if you don’t have enough time to spare yourself. Your local fire and rescue authority may give you advice about conducting a Fire Risk Assessment, but they cannot do it for you.
To help with your FRA, the UK Government has downloadable guides for different types of premises, giving you lists of what you should look for and steps to follow. https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-risk-assessments.
Once your first assessment is complete, you will have more confidence and will be able to conduct reviews yourself and educate your staff or residents on what to do in case of fire.
More about Fire Safety
If at any point you are unsure about the FRA process, we are experts in all things Fire Safety, and can guide you through the process. We also provide full training courses, both in-person and online to teach you everything you need to know about making your premises safe.