Fire safety risk assessments are a necessary inspection, whether you have a commercial building or a private home. Fires can be extremely dangerous and despite all the measures we have in place to help protect people, there are still fatalities and many more injuries every year from fires.
Knowing the risks in any given space allows you to reduce this risk or even eliminate it, making it safer for everyone.
The assessment is done with an eye to security for all who are in the building. This means assessing people and the risks and fire hazards around them. From there, you can take steps to reduce the potential issues and to reduce any fire hazards at hand.
Who Can Do an Assessment?
You should have a sufficiently trained person handle the fire safety risk assessment. While you can certainly check for risks yourself, it’s quite likely you’ll miss some things if you don’t have the proper training. There are companies, such as E K Fire Protection, that can provide assessments that will meet all the requirements.
How to Carry Out a Fire Safety Risk Assessment
The assessment has multiple stages, examining different areas of fire safety. These include the structure itself, the systems within it, and the people who live or work there.
Fire Safety Systems
The assessor will need to look at what fire safety systems are currently available in the building. These include:
Fire warning system: How will people know there is a fire? Is there a pull-down fire alarm? An automatic alarm? Something else? The system should be up-to-date and tested.
Emergency lighting: If there is a fire, the lights may go out. They could also go out in an emergency unrelated to fire, so it’s essential that there be a backup lighting system if this is a commercial building. It can be 1-3 hours in duration but should work well.
Other systems: Some buildings may have a sprinkler system or another fire suppression system installed. This should be noted in the assessment and tested for functionality.
If there is a fire, do you have what you need to fight it? A small fire can be prevented from growing out of proportion with a handheld fire extinguisher and could save the whole building. It’s a good idea to have fire extinguishers throughout the building, in stairwells and in dangerous areas such as kitchens.
Identify Fire Hazards
The assessment will also need to identify any potential fire hazards, which may be either removed or reduced by proper placement of fire suppression units. The assessor will look at:
Ignition sources: Anything that could light a fire is considered an ignition source. This could be anything from pilot lights to a switch.
Fuel sources: Fuel may be anything from wood or oil to gas and petrol. Make note of where these fuels are located and if possible, keep them away from ignition sources.
Structural features: Any features that may help spread a fire should be noted so they may be addressed. This includes things like vents, spaces where fire can jump levels, and other such structures.
They will also check that there is regular maintenance occurring for all the various fire-resistant features in the building, as well as the firefighting equipment.
People At Risk
Some people who are in the building regularly could be at higher risk than others. The elderly, small children, and people with disabilities may all be hindered from escaping if a fire breaks out. The assessor will note where these people tend to be while in the building (such as their apartment or desk) and any controls that should be put into place to ensure their survival.
It’s a good idea to evaluate escape routes, as well. Not only must there be solid escape routes that are clearly marked, but they also need to be clear of obstructions. If someone has to get out of the building fast, there should be no need to move things around or try to make their way through or over items.
Escape routes must always be kept clear and free. This is something you should check regularly to ensure your space is always safe.
Your fire safety signs and notices are also up for review. This means you need to have all exit routes clearly marked. Any instructions, such as avoiding elevators in case of a fire, should also be placed.
Emergency Action Plan
The assessor will also need to know what your emergency action plan is or, if you don’t have one, will help you develop something that is actionable and accounts for the higher risk people in the building. Everyone needs to be aware of the plan and it’s a good idea to practice it from time to time, much as you would at school.
This plan should include:
- Who will call the fire and rescue service
- How they will be called
- How an evacuation call will go out
- Who will help those who need extra aid
- Which exits each area should take
- When to attempt to put out the fire
- Where employees should gather for a headcount
- Who is responsible for the headcount
- Who is responsible for notifying fire and rescue of any missing persons
This action plan is what you will use as a basis for any future training that you do for your employees or the residents of the building. Ensure everyone knows their jobs and that you choose people who won’t panic in the event of an emergency.
Deficiencies and Rectifications
Finally, the assessor will create a list of potential hazards and issues that must be rectified, as well as their priority. These will need to be followed up on to ensure everything is completed on time and properly.
In cases where a system needs to be installed, it’s essential a professional does the installation. Otherwise, things like signs and training may be handled by the company or building owner. If need be, the assessor may refer the building for consultation with the fire and rescue service. They can further consult on any concerns that you or the assessor may have.
Are Fire Safety Risk Assessments Required?
Yes, a Fire Safety Risk Assessment is legally required for businesses. If you work alone or have employees, you must identify and reduce potential risks in your business. This is according to the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
Organisations with five or more employees must keep a written record of the risk assessment findings and must identify people at high risk. The risk assessment must be reviewed from time to time in case of any changes.
The simplest way to ensure you are abiding by the law is to hire a company that has the experience necessary to conduct the fire safety risk assessment and provide you with a written assessment that you can show to the authorities if needed. It’s not a legal requirement but most people prefer to have an expert come in for this task.
Hiring someone means you can be certain that everything necessary is checked. You may have a good idea of what is required, but unless you have specific training, it can be quite difficult to identify all the risks. Experts can rapidly go through your building and point out anything that is a hazard and give suggestions on how to make it better.
Aside from being a legal requirement, a fire risk assessment is essential for protecting yourself, your business, and everyone who works with you. It is also useful for keeping your customers safe if you are open to the public.
If you’re ready to set up your own fire safety risk assessment, contact E K Fire Protection now to make an appointment.