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    Help and Advice What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

    What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

    Under the Regulatory Reform Order, every business is legally required to undertake a fire risk assessment. If a business has more than five employees, the fire risk assessment must be kept in a written record in accordance with government guidelines. 

    Fire alarm smoke

    Fire risk assessments help to identify the people at risk, hazards in your building and ways you can reduce the risk of fire. 

    This month, we’ll look in more detail at fire risk assessments to tell you how often they should be carried out, who is responsible for completing them and the different ways in which they can be utilised for different sectors.

    How often should a fire risk assessment be carried out?

    The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order doesn’t actually specify how often you should have a fire risk assessment carried out for your premises. Instead, it states that it should be carried out with regularity, with the additional instruction for the responsible person to ensure it is kept up to date.

    There are a number of reasons you may need to have a fire risk assessment carried out, even if you feel you only recently had one:

    • Changes to the structure of your building
    • Major changes to the function or purpose of any part of your building
    • New, hazardous substances kept on site
    • After a fire-related incident or accident
    • If you notice damage to fire safety equipment
    • Changes to the number of staff on the premises
    • Staff with disabilities are hired

    Who is responsible for completing a fire risk assessment?

    It is the duty of the responsible person to ensure a fire risk assessment is carried out on a regular basis and that one is actioned if any of the instances from the above list occurs. The responsible person could be the owner of the building or the head of the company using the building for business.

    Often the responsible person may not have the time or the right level of experience in order to carry out a fire risk assessment, which is where a professional assessor can help. We have trained and experienced assessors who can ensure the fire risk assessment is carried out properly and documented in the right format for legal purposes.

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    Fire risk assessments for offices and shops

    Undertaking fire risk assessment in empty office space

    For offices and shops, there are unique elements which a fire risk assessment should take into account for the following areas:

    • Identifying hazards
      • Sources of ignition could include: lighters, matches, candles, open gas flames, welding equipment, cooking equipment, fault electrics, lighting equipment and arson.
      • Fuel sources could include: liquids such as photocopier liquids, cooking oils, paints, packaging materials, clothing displays, waste products, polyurethane foam-filled furniture and flammable gases such as LPG.
      • Oxygen sources could include: oxidising chemicals, oxygen from cylinders used for welding and in pyrotechnic items such as fireworks.
    • Identifying people at risk:
      • Employees who may work alone or be isolated, including cleaners and security
      • Seasonal workers, temporary staff, guests, visitors and customers
      • Those with a disability or the elderly who may not be able to leave quickly
      • People in the vicinity of the building
      • People who may have difficulty with language
    • Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect
      • This step should take into account all of the above, replacing potentially dangerous items with safer ones, storing flammable items appropriately, maintaining equipment.
      • Reduce the risk to vulnerable people with adequate fire precautions, such as fire alarms, fire safety equipment, evacuation plans, escape routes, lighting, signs and notices.

    Fire risk assessments for healthcare premises

    Undertaking fire risk assessment in a hospital

    Healthcare premises contain their own risks in comparison to other non-dwelling buildings, which is where a fire risk assessment can help:

    • Identifying hazards
      • Sources of ignition could include: electric, gas or oil heaters, matches and lighters, candles, cooking equipment, faulty electrics, welding by contractors, blocked equipment ventilation and arson (possibly from patients suffering with a mental illness).
      • Sources of fuel could include: laundry supplies, linens and medical supplies, toiletries, wood and textile furniture, clothing and decorations, cleaning products, flammable gases such as LPG and waste products.
      • Sources of oxygen could include: oxidising chemicals and oxygen supplied from cylinders.
    • Identifying people at risk
      • Employees who may work alone or be isolated, including cleaners, nursing staff, maintenance staff and anyone on night shifts
      • Those unfamiliar with the premises, including staff, visitors and contractors
      • Patients unable to evacuate without assistance, including, the elderly, those with mental or sensory impairment
      • Visitors and guests with mobility issues or with children
      • People in the vicinity of the building
      • People who may have difficulty with language
    • Evaluate remove, reduce and protect
      • Implementation of a smoking policy to prohibit smoking in or around the building
      • Regular maintenance of equipment and electrics
      • Use alternatives to flammables where appropriate
      • Take steps to prevent arson attacks
      • Avoid naked flames in heating and restrict the movement of portable heating appliances

    Fire risk assessments for residential care premises

    Empty bed and walker in care home

    A fire risk assessment can help to keep residents in care premises safe, especially the most vulnerable through the following:

    • Identifying hazards
      • Sources of ignition could include: electric, gas or oil heaters, matches and lighters, candles, cooking equipment, faulty electrics, equipment owned by residents, blocked equipment ventilation such as photocopiers, arson and vandalism.
      • Sources of fuel could include: the structure of the premises (walls, floors, ceilings and fixtures), laundry supplies, linens and medical supplies, toiletries, wood and textile furniture, paper products such as stationery, clothing and decorations, personal belongings, cleaning products, flammable gases such as LPG, waste storage areas and waste products.
      • Sources of oxygen could include: oxidising chemicals and oxygen supplied from cylinders.
    • Identifying people at risk
      • Employees who may work alone or be isolated, including cleaners, nursing staff, maintenance staff and anyone on night shifts
      • People who may be isolated, such as contractors or maintenance workers in roof spaces or plant rooms
      • Those unfamiliar with the premises, including staff, visitors and contractors
      • Residents who require assistance such as the elderly, disables, children and babies, as well as those with mobility and sensory impairments
      • Visitors and guests with mobility issues or with children
      • Those who may panic or react adversely to an alarm, fire or general excitement
    • Evaluate remove, reduce and protect
      • Implementation of a smoking policy to prohibit smoking in or around the building
      • Regular maintenance of equipment and electrics
      • Use alternatives to flammables where appropriate
      • Implement a permit system for any hot works to be carried out
      • Take steps to prevent arson attacks
      • Avoid naked flames in heating and restrict the movement of portable heating appliances

    While all fire risk assessments will have common factors to identify and make recommendations for, no two premises are exactly the same. With professional assessors, trained to help you establish safe practices in your building, you can count on the City Fire Protection team to assist you. 

    To discuss your building, the sector you work in or to find out more about our fire risk assessments and how they help you remain compliant with fire safety regulations, please contact us today.

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