A fire risk assessment is a process that involves a competent individual carrying out a systematic evaluation of commercial premises to assess the risk of fire, the likelihood that a fire could break out, and the consequences should a fire occur.
The purpose of a fire risk assessment is to identify fire risks so that action can be taken to eliminate or reduce the potential causes of fire. This thorough assessment should review all possible eventualities for the use of the building and associated risks in order to ensure that people, processes and property will be protected from fire.
The RRO (Regulatory Reform Order) , became law in 2006, and means that carrying out a fire risk assessment is now a mandatory requirement. It is the legal responsibility of the Responsible Individual to ensure the business conducts a thorough fire risk assessment. The RRO order is designed to provide a minimum fire safety standard in all non-domestic premises.
Periodically, a fire officer may also visit your premises to carry out routine inspections, however their visit and any subsequent advice, does not remove your legal obligation to ensure a fire risk assessment is carried out on a regular basis by a competent person.
The fire risk assessment process
A fire risk assessment is a vital first step in producing a quality fire safety policy in any non-domestic building. The basic steps are outlined in the infographic on this page and include:
- Identifying any potential fire hazards including combustible materials, sources of heat, unsafe practices and potentially dangerous conditions.
- Identifying any particular locations or individuals at risk.
- Reducing risk. This can be achieved by removal or separation; and by putting measures in place to encourage a culture of risk prevention.
- Evaluating the level of risk (either low, medium or high).
- Deciding if the current systems are adequate. This includes fire detection, fire alarms, escape routes, signage and fire-fighting equipment e.g. extinguishers.
What is competent?
BS 5839 Part 1 : 2017 is the code of practice as defined by British Standards which applies to the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire alarm systems in non-domestic premises.
This British Standard recommends that fire alarm installation and maintenance should be carried out by a ‘competent’ person, but it does not go on to outline what competence means.
As the Responsible Person it is your responsibility to ensure the fire risk assessment and any resulting fire safety policies and procedures satisfy the requirements of current legislation at all times.
So, in theory, you could perform this assessment yourself if you feel you are competent.
However, our advice is to be absolutely certain that you are sufficiently competent because should a fire occur, there is always an investigatation to ascertain its cause. If it is found that your risk assessment and fire safety policies are not adequate, you can face prosecution as you are the person who has been appointed to fulfil these duties.
There have been many high profile examples where the investigation has highlighted inadequatices in the fire risk assessment process that have resulted in prosecutions and prison sentences for the indviduals responsible for fire safety. The responsible individual can learn many lessons from these examples.
At Tecserv UK we believe competence should be evidenced by holding third party accreditation such as being a BAFE approved contractor.
Finding an approved fire risk assessor
If you are not 100% sure that you have the competancies to carry out the fire risk assessment we recommend that you contact a BAFE approved company, like Tecserv UK who will help you appoint a qualified professional.