Fire safety risk assessments are a legal requirement for all businesses with premises. The responsible person, who in most cases is the business owner, is required by law to ensure the implementation and maintenance of the safety of all employees, customers, clients and any potential visitors. When it comes to mitigating the risk of a fire, the employer has a responsibility to complete all necessary risk assessments demonstrating that any potential hazard has been carefully considered.
As no stone can be left unturned when it comes to fire safety, there can be a lot of factors to inspect and no room for error. With so many people’s safety at stake, fire safety risk assessments are not to be taken lightly. That being said, it is simple to lose track of the process without the proper management. Therefore, it is paramount that fire safety risk assessment templates are understood and followed during the assessment.
What Is A Fire Safety Risk Assessment?
The long-short of a fire safety risk assessment is to keep people safe. It aims to outline all the possible risks, from a fire prevention perspective, that face all the people within your premises. This documentation aims to cover all the bases; for every risk, there is a process in place to reduce the effect of this playing out.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
On 1st October 2006, The Fire Safety Order 2005 came into effect. This document applies to employers and business owners who have the responsibility for non-domestic, industrial, commercial and residential premises. The legislation came about in an attempt to simplify, rationalise and consolidate all fire safety documentation and regulation within one Order. It intended to implement a risk-based approach to fire safety, looking to provide the fire and rescue service with more efficient and effective rules to enforce.
The Order was built around every business having one person responsible for the completion of a thorough fire safety risk assessment. The evaluation includes all work activities as well as the premises, in its entirety. This competent person has to identify all potential fire risks, including who would be in danger if a fire was to start and where they would most be at risk. Once all these factors have been identified, the designated person would then have to assess whether the business’s current processes and precautions are adequate to cover the risk, or can more be done.
The fire safety risk assessment would then need to be regularly reviewed and amended as the evaluation saw fit.
What Businesses Need To Carry Out A Fire Safety Risk Assessment?
The government’s legislation requires all businesses to carry out this fire safety risk assessment regularly, aiming to minimise and manage the risk of fire sufficiently. The Order states that all types of work-related buildings, structures, and open spaces, including offices and shops, care and education settings, warehouses, and construction. However, this list is purely comprehensive and by no means extensive.
It is worth noting that the Fire Safety Order only applies to businesses and non-domestic premises. A fire safety risk assessment is not required within private homes. The only exception is for landlords as they have a legal obligation to ensure their rental properties and HMOs meet the expected fire safety requirements.
Why Do You Need To Carry Out A Fire Safety Risk Assessment?
As a legal requirement, a fire safety risk assessment must be carried out; however, the bottom line of these evaluations is to save lives and mitigate the risk to all people should a fire start within your business’s premises.
Anyone responsible for a building that is not a private home or ‘single private dwelling,’ has to make sure the proper actions have been carried out to ensure the premise is fire safe.
If a building has more than five people working there or you have a licence under the enactment force, your fire safety risk assessment must be kept as a written document. It is of utmost importance that this record is kept up-to-date and relevant, ensuring all suggestions for improvement have been carried out.
At the end of the day, having these measures in place is a good business practice as much as it is the law. Many businesses are unable to survive the devastation to both reputation and loss a fire can cause, therefore, implementing effective fire prevention is the first step to understanding the risks.
The Fire Safety Risk Assessment Template
There are varying risk assessment guides that look to guide different businesses with their fire safety measures. Your first step is to find the relevant information for your business premise, allowing you to comply with all the applicable fire safety laws. These templates aim to guide you on the fire safety measures that you should have instigated.
Some businesses will fall under different categories and will, therefore, need to comply with all appropriate templates. For example, businesses that offer both dining and drinking facilities but also provide sleeping accommodation for guests and staff will need to ensure every box Is ticked.
Once you have located the necessary templates, your designated responsible person must begin their inspection. This process includes planning and testing fire escape routes, warning and detection systems, fire suppression equipment, and evacuation plans, as well as the initial hazards and potential fire risks around every establishment/building.
It is only after all these things have been considered that a fire safety risk assessment can be created.
Five Steps of A Risk Assessment
When it comes to writing a fire safety risk assessment, there are five steps to ensuring you have covered all bases.
1. Identify All Fire Hazards
From things within your premises that could cause a fire to start, such as faults with electrical equipment, cooking equipment within staff kitchens, and portable heaters, to materials that would help a fire spread, for example, packaging, decorations and rubbish. Within this step, it is also crucial to consider additional sources of oxygen that would help to fuel a fire, this includes a building’s air conditioning system, any cylinders or fireworks.
2. Identify Everyone At Risk
Who could be inside your building or on your site? Why are they here and what would they be doing? Whether your premise only accommodates employees or includes facilities for customers and clients, you must consider everyone that would be put at risk should a fire start.
Important circumstances to consider is if your premises has people resting or sleeping, how would these disorientated people get to safety? Does your business involve noisy environments, would an alarm be heard in all areas of the site? If anyone onsite has a disability, have their needs been considered? It is crucial all these questions are answered.
3. Identify What Measures Are Needed To Ensure People’s Safety
This is where you assess the practical measures that are needed to reduce the risks identified in step one and keep everyone in step two safe. There are two groupings of implications to consider: what you can do to reduce the risk of a fire starting and things that can be done to reduce the risk once a fire is underway.
For the first part, the most thorough process is to work down your list of hazards from step one and see what can be put in place to remove this risk, or significantly reduce it as much as possible. Then, you need to put yourself in the shoes of everyone within your premises, the concerns they have raised in step two need to be reviewed. Ask, what you can implement to aid them in their escape if a fire broke out? Even if your business has never had a fire to contend with before, there needs to be a plan in place if the worst were to happen.
In this step, ensure you are considering:
- How will everyone be alerted?
- Where would fire extinguishers help the spread of a fire?
- Where and how will people fire their nearest fire exits?
- Would a fire be likely to obstruct a fire escape route?
- Could smoke build-up and hinder people’s exit?
4. Recording Your Risk Assessment
Once your fire safety measures have been decided in line with identified hazards and the people you are keeping safe, the next step is to record all your findings and your plan of action. Everyone in the business needs to know their responsibilities and what they need to do in the event of a fire.
If your business is licensed and serves alcohol or employs over five members of staff, there must be a comprehensive record of your findings from your fire safety risk assessment. It is recommended to play on the safe side and record your risk assessment in its entirety.
For example, if you have identified the chance of a fire occurring from an electrical item, your action to reduce this would be to arrange for a Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) to be conducted.
5. Reviewing Your Evaluation and Assessment
It is good practice to review your fire safety risk assessment at least annually. If your premises have undergone any changes or your staffing numbers have changed, your fire risk assessment will be affected. In order to stay on top, it is important to make regular evaluations and amendments to your fire safety measures.
How To Use A Fire Risk Assessment Template
If you are looking to complete your fire safety risk assessment in-house, it is recommended to follow a reputable risk assessment template. With so many details required for a thorough evaluation, these documents are formatted to make them more accessible. They will require essential checklists of factors that cannot be missed, so do ensure these lists are close-at-hand when the inspections are carried out.
Appointing Someone To Carry Out Your Risk Assessment
As the gravity of fire safety risk assessments is so high, many business owners prefer to entrust this process to regarded professionals. In doing so, not only can you rest assured your business is complying with the law; but, you will always have a top-quality risk assessment and fire prevention plan.
When it comes to the safety of your employees, customers and clients, there is no question that these processes cannot be rushed or compromised. Everyone benefits when these essential safety measures are followed and carried out rigorously.
Fire Safety Risk Assessments in Birmingham & Wolverhampton
If you would like to appoint the expertise of our skilled and extremely competent fire risk assessors, contact our professional safety engineers today. At Cardinal Fire, we simplify the process of fire safety compliance.
We offer thorough Fire Safety Risk Assessment Services in Birmingham and Wolverhampton. With our third-party accreditation, your business premises can benefit from our in-depth fire safety knowledge, allowing you to have peace of mind that all your fire procedures will be in place should you need them.
Want to know more about your legal obligations as a business owner? Check out our complete guide to UK workplace fire safety.
Can You Do A Fire Risk Assessment Yourself?
You can complete your business’s fire safety risk assessment in-house; however, under the Fire Safety Order 2005, business owners are legally required to have a Fire Assessment carried out by a ‘competent’ person. In order to take the pressure off a member of your staff working to meet the criteria of this expert person, most businesses choose to appoint qualified professionals to complete the safety requirements on their behalf. As the consequences of a poorly completed risk assessment do not bear thinking, this is a lot of pressure to put onto someone without the experience and knowledge of the fire safety industry.
How Can I Write A Fire Safety Risk Assessment?
There are four steps to keep in mind when creating a fire safety risk assessment:
- Identifying the fire risk – what could a fire start?
- Who could be harmed in a fire?
- How can we mitigate or remove these risks?
- Put all of the above into a detailed report
Once all of these steps have been carefully considered and thoroughly investigated, the completed document should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is always up to date.
What Is The Law On Fire Risk Assessments?
If you have a business that employs five or more members of staff, a fire safety risk assessment must be produced in writing by law.
What is the Fire Safety Risk Assessment Checklist?
The fire safety risk assessment checklist is what your business’s responsible person would use to identify the pre-existing and any new hazards. As commercial premises must keep written records of their fire safety report, there should always be an old checklist to begin a new evaluation.