If you are responsible for any business premises, warehouse or apartment building, you have a legal obligation to carry out or commission a proper fire risk assessment carried out by a “competent person”. In theory, anyone can undertake a fire risk assessment provided that they follow the relevant guidelines carefully. In practice, however, this course of action is inadvisable unless you have a strong background in buildings maintenance and the premises in question has a limited number of occupants who are not engaged in any complex activities.
In most instances, therefore, the safest option is to arrange for a qualified fire risk assessor to carry out the assessment on your behalf. This will ensure that the assessment meets the relevant requirements and should also provide you with a clear record of the assessment and any subsequent actions or decisions taken.
You will, however, continue to be responsible for the fire safety of the building. So, it is advisable to have a clear idea of the objectives placed on a fire risk assessment, and the most effective means of accomplishing them. To help you achieve this, here is our guide to what you should expect from a professional fire risk assessment service.
Your legal obligations
A detailed outline of who is responsible for fire risk assessment and the various responsibilities placed upon them is available on the UK government website. In summary, however, you are responsible if you own or manage a workplace building or an apartment block in any capacity.
The assessment itself should detail any fire hazards which apply and identify who is at risk and set out a clear strategy for controlling these risks. If more than four people are expected to be present at any given time, this assessment must be recorded in a written document, and in any case the assessment must be regularly reviewed and updated.
Fire risk assessments in practice
A professional fire risk assessor will be trained to recognise and analyse all fire hazards thoroughly and effectively. This should include not only looking at the structure and layout of the building itself, but also considering how the activities of those using the building might impact on fire safety.
Follow-up visits are necessary in order to review fire safety arrangements and make changes as required. Typically, these will be annual, however additional visits can also be required during intervening periods. The two major examples of this are if the structure or layout of your building is altered significantly, or if there is a substantial change to the way in which your business operates.
Benefits to you
It goes without saying that the safety of staff members should be the top priority of any business or organisation. Any fire in the workplace has the potential to be deadly, so the importance of eliminating this threat to the greatest possible extent cannot be overstated. Furthermore, anyone who neglects their fire risk assessment responsibilities can face criminal charges.
However, there are other benefits to commissioning a professional fire risk assessment. While difficult to quantify and not as vital as the main task of establishing and maintaining optimum fire safety, advantages such as greater employee confidence and a sense of shared responsibility are not without merit. Good fire safety practice also makes sound economic sense, protecting your business assets, preventing damage to fixtures and fittings, and even leading to improved efficiency. If properly documented, it should also be reflected in the cost of your insurance premiums.
Now that you have a clearer idea of what a professional fire risk assessment involves and what results you can expect, the next step is to decide on the most suitable fire risk strategy for your business going forward.
First, contact us to arrange for one of our team of fully qualified fire safety consultants to visit your premises. They will conduct a comprehensive assessment which meets or exceeds all legal requirements, and accounts for every aspect of your building and the way in which it is used.
Next, a full fire safety management report detailing all findings and ensuring full compliance to all
UK fire safety legislation will be completed and delivered to you. This will lay out all issues in clear terms and provide you with a legally compliant documentation of your fire risk management strategy.
Finally, our consultant will visit you at your premises for a follow-up meeting. This is our opportunity to discuss all findings in detail and address any contraventions as a matter of high priority.
With an effective and fully compliant fire risk management strategy now in place, we can help you to continue your commitment to maintaining optimum fire safety standards by scheduling regular return visits.