What is a fire risk assessment and is it necessary?

With any business, the threat of fire is a perpetual worry as it not only puts your staff at risk but can devastate your offices and leave your company without a home.

However, in order to mitigate these fears a little, it’s vital (not to mention a legal requirement) that a fire risk assessment is carried out. Only after a thorough fire risk assessment will you be able to formulate a strong and secure fire safety plan.

Even though they are legally mandated, however, many businesses overlook fire risk assessments, which means buildings are being exposed to unnecessary fire risks that could lead to not only a loss of business but a loss of life.

What is a fire risk assessment?

Essentially, a fire risk assessment is a review of the building to ascertain the likelihood of a fire starting and spreading. They are undertaken to give the building managers a chance to make the building safer, as they are often followed by recommendations.

Note – the assessment doesn’t necessarily have to be written down if there are less than 5 regular occupants in the building, however, it can be handy to have a written document.

What are the legal requirements?

Assessments must be carried out every 12 months. They must also be carried out if the fabric or layout of the buildings has been altered in any way, and if the purpose of the building or the nature of the business has changed. These changes can make a major difference in fire safety.

If there are 5 or more regular occupants (including members of staff), meanwhile, the fire risk assessment must legally be documented. There must also be a legal document if the building requires a licence or if the building manager has been specifically instructed to do so by the fire department.

There are two legal parts of a fire risk assessment – the review and the recommendations. The former will mark the safety of the building against some predisposed point, whereas the former will outline any items that must be acted upon in order for the building to be classified as fire safe.

What does it entail?

A fire risk assessment will determine the chance of a fire occurring and spreading by examining not only the building itself but the activities that take place within on a regular basis.

The person conducting the assessment will identify any potential fire hazards, which include everything from sources of ignition to any regular practices that could potentially lead to a fire.

They will also inspect if there are adequate smoke and fire alarms installed and that these alarms are working properly. The assessment will also entail deciding who might be in danger should a fire break out and whether or not the precautions already in place are adequate.

Once the assessment has been conducted, the findings will be recorded and employees will be informed of the findings. Recommendations will then be made about how the business should make their premises safer. This could include anything from removing potential fire hazards to completely changing certain working methods.

Who will carry it out?

The fire risk assessment should be carried out by a properly trained individual who has experience in fire safety. If you do not meet these criteria yourself and there is nobody on your team who you would trust with the task, you can seek the help of an independent company to ensure completely fair and unbiased results.

In general, fire safety in the workplace is all about common sense, but there are still certain things you might miss, even if you think you’ve taken everything into account.

Ultimately, a fire risk assessment will not only give your employees greater peace of mind, but it will be invaluable in helping you and your staff maintain order and awareness when it comes to that most damaging of hazards.