The risk of fire in a property in the UK is all too present. The Fire and Rescue Service attended 157,156 fires in the year ended December 2019. In addition, there were 229,822 false fire alarms – mainly due to faulty apparatus – and 168,721 non-fire incidents (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/884271/fire-and-rescue-incident-dec19-hosb1120.pdf).
It follows that one should take every precaution to prevent fires, and indeed all employers and landlords must undertake a fire risk assessment of their property and review it regularly, and in particular when any changes take place. This is required under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Act 2005. Furthermore, all employers who employ more than four staff – which is most of them – are required to keep a written record of their fire safety assessment and any actions taken to reduce or eliminate the risk.
The purposes of a fire risk assessment are to identify all possible fire hazards, to eliminate – or were not possible, reduce – the hazards, and to make a decision about what fire safety precautions and equipment are necessary in order to ensure the safety of people on the premises in the event that a fire should start.
For example, it may be the case that hazardous gases or materials are required to be on the premises for the purposes of manufacturing, so it is not possible to remove them entirely. However, it may well be possible to keep them separately and away from other flammable materials with a bit of reorganisation on the factory floor. These are all the sorts of things that need to be taken into account when carrying out a fire safety assessment.
Of course, you also need to have a fire alarm system and fire extinguishers. The number and type of fire extinguishers that you will need will vary hugely according to the size of the premises and the sort of work that is conducted there. Every building is different, and some businesses have a number of buildings spread about the grounds in which they are situated, each one being used for different tasks. This is where a fire safety assessment can get very complicated and time-consuming, especially if you are not an expert, which – let’s face it – most business-people are not.
This is one of the reasons that so many businesses use our services at UK-FireRisk Assessments – and why we are in business in the first place! In order to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Act 2005, the fire risk assessment must be carried out by the Responsible Person which is defined as follows:
a) in relation to a workplace, the employer if the workplace is to any extent under his control
b) the person who has control of the premises (occupier or otherwise) in connection with the trade, business, or other undertakings
c) the owner of the trade, business, or other undertakings
The Order also states that the fire safety assessment must be undertaken by a competent person but offers no definition of what is meant by “competent”. However, this can vary considerably depending on what is carried on in the premises, how big or small they are, and the overall risks. For example, the risk assessment in a convenience store will be very different from that in a steel factory.
The order also states that the fire risk assessment must be reviewed on a regular basis, but again offers no definition of “regular”. For all practical purposes, most people take this to mean on an annual basis. However, you also need to review the assessment when any changes take place.
So, for instance, you could begin manufacturing a new product on your premises which requires the use and storage of flammable materials. You might install new machinery and move things around, which could result in cutting off what was previously a safe escape route. You might want to enlarge the kitchen in your restaurant so that you could also start doing meal deliveries.
Certainly, there can be an awful lot of things to take into consideration when undertaking a fire safety assessment, which is why in most cases it is better left to the professionals. At UK-Fire Risk Assessments we can carry out your assessment on a fixed price basis which is geared to the size of your premises, and we provide you with the written report that you need.