Fire Risk Assessment
A fire risk assessment is an evaluation of the premises identifying hazards or potential hazards and determining the likelihood (risk) that such hazards will cause harm. The responsible person must carry out and regularly review the fire risk assessment of the premises. This will identify what you need to do to prevent fire and keep people safe. You must keep a written record of your fire risk assessment.
Completing a fire risk assessment
You can do the fire risk assessment yourself with the help of standard fire safety risk assessment guides. Here is an example of a fire risk assessment template
If you do not have the expertise or time to do the fire risk assessment yourself you need to appoint a ‘competent person’ to help. The Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council, under the auspices of the Fire Sector Federation has published a Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor. The Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) maintains a register of professional risk assessors IFE Register of Fire Risk Assessors.
Simple Fire Risk Assessment form
When carrying out a fire risk assessment, you must consider the following 5 steps:
What might cause a fire within your premises?
- Sources of ignition such as heaters, machinery and friction from drive belts. It can also mean faulty or misused electrical equipment or smokers materials
- Sources of fuel such as workplace chemicals or cleaning agents, textiles, packaging materials, waste materials and accumulated rubbish
- Sources of oxygen such as natural airflow via windows and doors, mechanical air conditioning systems or sources of oxygen from medical or commercial supplies
Try to reduce this risk to people such as:
- People working near to fire dangers
- Visitors to your premises - this could include contractors or temporary workers
- People working alone or in isolated areas such as in roof spaces or storerooms
- Children or parents with babies
- The elderly or infirm, people who are disabled and those with individual vulnerabilities
Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks. You should remove or reduce any fire hazards where possible and reduce any risks you have identified. When you have reduced the risk as far as possible, you must assess any risk that is left and decide whether there are any further measures you need to take to ensure you provide a reasonable level of fire safety.
- Fire detection and warning system - You must have a suitable fire-detection and warning system.
- Have a means of fighting a fire - It may be that a small fire can be tackled once the alarm has been raised or you may need equipment to aid escape from a fire.
- Escape routes - Everyone in your premises should be able to escape to a place of total safety unaided and without the help of the fire and rescue service
- Fire exit doors - You should be able to use a fire exit door and any doors on an escape route without a key and without any specialist knowledge
You should record the findings from steps 1 and 2 - these will be the hazards you identified and the people who may be most at risk. Record what you did as part of step 3 to reduce these risks.
Fire emergency plan - You must provide an emergency plan for dealing with a fire situation. This will be specific to the premises and will detail the pre-planned procedures in place for use in the event of a fire. It ensures that people in your premises know what to do if there is a fire.
Training - All employees should receive training and information about the risks on the premises and what to do in an emergency situation. This should be carried out when new employees are given an induction and then given regular updates and training - once or twice a year is ideal.
Any employees who have additional responsibilities, for example, fire marshals - will need additional training which will provide more in-depth knowledge and instruction.
If you have followed the previous 4 steps you now have a fire risk assessment for your premises. This is a working document, so it shouldn’t be filed away and forgotten. Make sure you keep it up to date. It’s a good idea to review it once a year, but also review it if you make any changes to your business such as new employees starting, change in the types or amount of materials you store or any change in workplace layouts.
If you have an incident or near miss review the assessment and make sure any procedures in place worked. If something didn’t work - change it.
You’ll need to consider:
- emergency routes and exits
- fire detection and warning systems
- fire fighting equipment
- the removal or safe storage of dangerous substances
- an emergency fire evacuation plan
- the needs of vulnerable people, for example the elderly, young children or those with disabilities
- providing information to employees and other people on the premises
- staff fire safety training
You can download the following guides on risk assessments in:
- offices and shops
- factories and warehouses
- sleeping accommodation
- residential care premises
- educational premises
- small and medium places of assembly (holding 300 people or less)
- large places of assembly (holding more than 300 people)
- theatres, cinemas and similar premises
- open air events and venues
- healthcare premises
- animal premises and stables
- transport premises and facilities
You can also find guidance on:
- risk assessments if you work in construction
- purpose-built blocks of flats
- other types of housing (if you’re a landlord)
- Finding fire risk assessor (nationalfirechiefs.org.uk)