Fire safety is crucially important and the basis of your fire safety should be set out in your fire risk assessment, but these can seem complicated and daunting.
If you are one of the responsible people in your organisation then you need to know what is required.
Why do I need a fire risk assessment?
Quite simply, it’s the law that any employer has a fire risk assessment. You also need to have a fire risk assessment if your premises is open to the public, is a non domestic premises or shared premises (HMO’s). The simple reason for this law is to keep both people and premises as safe as reasonably practicable by assessing the risks.
What is a fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment is a document produced by a specialist to assess and advise you on all aspects of your fire safety. This covers a whole range of topics from good housekeeping and storage procedures to your fire extinguishers and your fire alarm testing records. All aspects of fire safety are checked and their advice is provided within the report and within an action plan.
The important thing to remember is that a fire risk assessment is there to help you to meet the government guidelines rather than to catch you out!
What makes a good fire risk assessor?
Our fire risk assessors Kyran and Nick both come from a background as Fire Station Officers. They are both experienced and knowledgeable in the British Standards and European legislation whilst still understanding the practical implications of fire safety. Many people make the assumption that a fire risk assessor is aiming to shut their company down or looking for places to trip you up. Luckily this is a myth and it is just not true. A good fire risk assessment will put your mind at rest that your premises, your employees and the public are as safe as you can reasonably make them.
So what is the importance of the action plan?
The action plan in your fire risk assessments is the most important part of the document when it comes to improving your fire safety. If the risk assessment highlights any areas of improvement then the action plan will lay out what you need to do and in what time frame. This allows you to prioritise any changes and tailor them to meet your needs and budget. These changes might be minimal or may involve for example updating your staff’s fire marshall training.
Why do I have to have a professional fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment can be undertaken by any competent individual. That individual takes responsibility for the contents and also for the consequences of the advice that it contains. Fire risk assessments should follow the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Communities Local Government Fire Safety Risk Assessment Guides. The individual who undertakes them should be knowledgeable in BS5839. Because the individual who signs the document is liable for the contents they should hold the correct indemnity insurance. If you prepare a fire risk assessment without the correct knowledge and experience and your premises is affected by fire, your insurance may be invalid and it may result in anything from a fine to a prison sentence dependent on the impact of the fire. To read the information on fire safety enforcement’s and the possible penalties for poorly managed risks, you can click here to visit the .gov website.
So once I have had my fire risk assessment, what happens next?
After your fire risk assessment, we can review it fully with you and provide any support that you need to improve your fire safety. You legally have to commit to review your fire risk assessment annually or at any time you have a change in use or any works changing the layout of the building. If you don’t have any major changes, it is common to use the professional bespoke assessment as your template, but you should only do this if you have a good understanding of fire safety and an understanding of the law. You will need to continue with your regular fire servicing or set this up if you aren’t already having bi-annual or quarterly services.
To find out more about the government’s requirements for Fire Risk Assessments click here.
To find our more about the advise from HSE click here.