Last year, 16,000 businesses in England were hit by fire*. Don’t let it happen to yours.
The purpose of a fire risk assessment is to evaluate the likelihood of a fire on your premises and predict the consequences if one were to occur.
Fire risk assessments have been a legal obligation in just about every non-domestic building in England and Wales since 2006, when the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was introduced. And there are an awful lot of fire safety rules, regulations and guidance that businesses must follow to ensure they keep their staff, visitors and patrons safe.
To make sure these fire safety rules are enforced, local fire and rescue authorities visit premises to check that fire risk assessment and fire prevention measures are appropriate. And they can take action if fire safety measures are inadequate, by issuing either informal or formal fire safety notices.
For serious fire safety breaches, severe penalties can be enforced, including unlimited fines and up to two years in prison for the responsible person.
What’s involved in a fire risk assessment?
There are five key steps in a fire risk assessment, but how involved or complex these steps become depends a lot on the type of business and the size of premises concerned. So, a fire risk assessment at a fireworks factory would be considerably more complicated than one at a sweet shop!
The five basic steps are as follows:
- Fire Hazards: Identify sources of ignition and sources of fuel – ie how a fire could start and what is at risk of burning.
- People at Risk: Everyone is at risk in a fire, but identify particularly vulnerable people who would be at risk, or people who would be at increased risk.
- Evaluate and Act: Once you have evaluated the levels of risk in Steps 1 and 2, you need to identify ways to reduce this risk, then take action to make sure these changes happen.
- Record, Plan and Train: Keep a record of Steps 1, 2 and 3, make a clear plan of how to prevent a fire and then pass on your knowledge to staff, making sure they know what to do in the event of a fire.
- Review: Your fire risk assessment must be regularly reviewed to make sure it is still relevant – any changes to fire risks must be appropriately accounted for.
The Home Office’s handy 5-Step Fire Risk Assessment chart is available to download here.
Who can carry out a fire risk assessment?
Government regulations specify that the ‘responsible person’ must either carry out a fire risk assessment themselves or appoint a ‘competent person’ to do so.
So, if you want to carry out your own fire risk assessment for your premises, you are perfectly entitled to do so. However, many business owners feel they are not adequately qualified or confident in doing this.
Before you carry out your own fire risk assessment, ask yourself the following questions:
Do I have the time?
A proper fire risk assessment should take several hours to complete for even small premises. Add to that the full report and other paperwork that needs completing, and it’s no small time commitment.
Do I have the expertise?
Have you had sufficient training to know how to recognise potential fire risks, potential sources of ignition, and the best ways to make your building safer? Do you know all the fire safety rules and regulations that as a business you must adhere to by law?
Will my insurance cover me if there is a fire?
Most businesses’ buildings insurance will be declared null and void in the event of a fire if it is found either a fire risk assessment wasn’t carried out, or wasn’t “suitable and sufficient”. This means that even if you have carried out your own fire risk assessment, if the fire service finds it to be inadequate in any way, you could be left essentially uninsured.
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, it’s time to call in fire safety professionals like Expert Fire Solutions.
By outsourcing your fire risk assessment to certified experts, you can be sure of a full and thorough site inspection, a detailed fire risk assessment report, and comprehensive advice on how to improve your fire safety.
Keep your business fire safe
Aside from the penalties, the real consequences of not carrying out a proper fire risk assessment don’t bear thinking about. Carrying out a thorough, regular fire risk assessment will help to make sure you keep your staff and visitors fire safe.
Call Expert Fire Solutions today for advice or to arrange your fire risk assessment.
*16,000 non-dwelling building fires, according to the Home Office Fire Statistics Monitor: April 2015 to March 2016