Fire Risk Assessments...If you own or manage a business or apartment building, you will need to comply with fire safety law.
Current Fire Safety Legislation: The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the FSO) took effect from October 1, 2006
Similar to asbestos management, responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order (FSO) will rest with the "responsible person". The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) 2005 requires the "Responsible Person" of any non domestic premises to carry out a fire risk assessment, including measures to reduce or eliminate the risk of fire, and identify persons at risk. If you are in control of any part of a commercial premises you are under a legal obligation to carry out a detailed fire risk assessment to identifying risks and hazards in the premises. Where there are 5 or more employees, a record must be kept of significant findings. A fire risk assessment is essential in keeping your premises safe for everyone.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 also applies to the common parts of blocks of flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and maisonettes.
The FSO states that if you are the Responsible Person of premises you must make sure you carry out a "Suitable and Sufficient Fire Risk Assessment", although you can choose to appoint a 'competent' risk assessor to carry out a fire risk assessment on your behalf. However, you will still be responsible in law for meeting the requirements of the order. A person is regarded as competent where they have sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable them properly to implement their role.
Competence of fire risk assessors can be assured they meet the competency criteria established bt the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council by either certification of the individual fire risk assessor through a Professional Body Registration Scheme, or a Third Party Certification Scheme that is UKAS accredited.
The introduction of the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 has taken responsibility for fire safety away from the Fire Service and has firmly placed it in the hands of the owner/occupier of the building. This has now highlighted the need for Fire Risk Assessments to be carried out on all non domestic properties. This means if you operate a business, you operate a premises, you own a property and rent it out, or you are a charity or voluntary organisation and own or occupy a building you need to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment. It applies equally whether you operate a single roomed premises, or at the other extreme a complex muliti-floored, multi roomed property.
Other places covered by the Order include common parts of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and the common parts of blocks of flats and maisonettes.The Order applies to virtually all buildings, places and structures other than individual private dwellings e.g. individual flats in an apartment block or family homes.
It is your responsibility to make sure your workplace reaches the required standard and employees are provided with adequate fire safety training.
Adequate fire safety training would generally include:
Induction training (general fire awareness)
Periodic refresher training (or where the level of fire risk increases as a result of changes)
Training to support people in fulfilling their fire safety duties (e.g. responsible person)
Training towards competence (fire risk assessment, fire warden, fire extinguisher)
The fire safety order is aimed at simplifying the fire safety process, while at the same time placing a greater onus on a business owner to carry out fire risk assessments regularly. This means that the responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order rests with the "responsible person". The biggest change is the Fire Service no longer issue Fire Certificates and advise you what you should do in respect of Fire Safety. They are now the enforcing authority that prosecute you if you do not take your responsibilities under the regulations seriously. Fundamental to complying with the new regulations is the completion of a Fire Risk Assessment by an appropriate competent person. The aim of this document is to assess fire risks to the property and persons employed in, or visiting the premises. It looks at the risk of fire in your premises and the steps that have been taken to mitigate the risk, it also recommends what further steps are necessary.
The importance of fire risk assessment...Commercial premises are required to comply with The Fire Safety Order 2005 Regulations.
The risk assessment follows a simple five steps approach:
- Identify the fire hazards
- Identify people at risk
- Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from fire
- Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
- Keep assessment under review
Areas to consider when carrying out this risk assessment may include:
- Emergency exit routes, emergency lighting, fire doors, etc.
- Fire detection and warning systems like the smoke detector, fire alarm, etc.
- Fire fighting equipment like the fire extinguishers, hose reels, etc.
- Storage of dangerous substances which could serve as fuel for fire.
- Emergency fire evacuation plan
- Identification of the assembley point
- Consider vulnerable people, like the elderly, children, pregnant women and those with disabilities.
- Information dissemination about the premises and the emergency evacuation plan.
- Collaboration with external emergency services like the fire service, road safety, police, etc.
- Staff training and assigning of specific fire safety responsibilities.
Once the Fire Risk Assessment has been carried out, the Assessment becomes a “living document” that requires the holder to make sure that any deficiencies are addressed. This document should be reviewed on an annual basis or when changes are made to the building structure or what is undertaken in it. A series of control measures to reduce the risk from fire will be required, such as taking away potential causes where possible, putting in reasonable fire protection measures such as fire alarm and detection systems and emergency escape lighting. Staff training plays an important part of this process thus ensuring staff are trained and know what to do in the event of a fire, such as fire warning proceedures and how to use Fire Safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers.
If you don`t assess the risk of Fire present in your premises, you could be putting your employees and other peoples life at risk !
Local IDEA - 01262 670553 or 07818 060350 - A good IDEA for your property assessment