Commercial Fire Risk Assessments
From 1st October 2006 the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires any non-domestic premises to carry out a fire risk assessment (FRA).
Every premises has a Responsible Person in commercial buildings this is usually the employer, and they must ensure that the FRA is carried out.
Whilst the responsible person can carry out the FRA most businesses chose to appoint a competent risk assessor to do this on their behalf due to the scale and detail needed to ensure the requirements of the fire safety order are met.
The objective of a fire risk assessment is to evaluate the level of risk a premises faces. By conducting a fire risk assessment, the assessor will be able to determine areas for concern, the likelihood of a fire breaking out as well as any individuals most at risk. A fire risk assessment will also highlight any missing equipment and faulty equipment in a business’ fire safety setup.
What is the process of a Fire Risk Assessment?
Generally, there are 5 aspects of a FRA:
Identify the fire hazards
Fires need 3 sources of ignition to start, Heat, Fuel and Oxygen. When carry out the FRA items such as electrical equipment, piles of cardboard/rubbish and furniture need to be considered both inside the premises and outside area in close contact with the building.
Identify any persons as risk
In the instance of a fire everyone in and around the premises is at risk, this will include employees, contractors, visitors, and members of the public. However, there are people that will need to be identified at being a higher risk such as disabled individuals, elderly, and anyone who is not familiar with the premises.
Evaluate the risk
During this step it is important to look at the findings in steps 1 and 2. The aim is to remove and reduce the risk of a fire starting, this can start by simply removing any rubbish, making sure fire exits are not blocked and are well signed. But there is also a requirement to think about how deliberate fires may be started and measures that could be put in place to avoid this.
Document all finding and prepare a report including all aspect of the risk assessment and guidance on hazard prevention.
If you have 5 or more employees, it is a legal requirement to have a written document of the fire risk assessment recording everything that was found, and the actions taken. However, it is worth noting that even with 5 or less employees if something does go wrong it will be difficult to prove that an assessment was completed.
Review and revise
Overtime the risks will change this could be down to changes in the building structure or operations that you start to undertake or employment of more staff, because of this the FRA needs to be kept under regular review. It is recommended that this is carried out annually or when
What are the benefits of a fire risk assessment?
In every case spotting a hazard or risk and reducing these far outweighs the costs to recover after a fire. It is estimated that nearly 60% of businesses never recover after a fire. An FRA will reduce the chance of a fire happening and reduce the amount of damage cause should one occur.
What happens if you do not comply with regulations?
When the risks have not been properly managed, fire authorities have a duty to enforce compliance with regulations, this could involve being served notice and in some more serious cases this can lead to fines for each offence. Furthermore, there is a possibility of being issued an unlimited fine or even imprisonment for the responsible person.