Fire Risk Assessment
What changes occurred with the introduction of the the Fire Safety Order 2005?
What are the reasons for carrying out a fire risk assessment and who is responsible for carrying out such assessment? The responsibility is with the owner, employer or whoever is deemed responsible for the building. However, this was not always the case. Under the Fire Precautions Act 1971 commercial premises were issued with a Fire Certificate and this certificate could only be obtained after a fire risk assessment of the premises which would be carried out by the Fire and Rescue services or commonly known as the Fire Brigade. The fire brigade would assess the property and would highlight all the fire risk associated with the property.
The fire officer would carry out the Fire Risk Assessment on your behalf. He would review all areas of your building; identify any fire hazards and fire risk. On completion of the survey, the fire brigade would submit various recommendations that would have to be carried out, such as; installation of a fire alarm, emergency lighting, and fire extinguishers. On completion of such work, a return visit was arranged to confirm all work was carried out before they would issue a Fire Certificate for the building. On receipt of the Certificate, you could legally open your building.
In a way, the Fire Brigade would be acting as free consultants.
Fire Safety Order 2005 is introduced.
However, as the years went by, additional pieces of fire legislation was added, until it totalled a staggering 100 different pieces. Having so many pieces was confusing for all concerned. Therefore, as of October 2006, a new single piece of legislation was introduced to replace all existing legislation. It was called the Fire Safety Order or also known as the Regulatory Reform Order. The aim of the Order was to clarify, streamline and combine existing legislation.
The corner stone of the Fire Safety Order was a fire risk assessment had to be carried out. The main objective of the order was to prevent fire from starting, rather than dealing with the problems of fire was it had occurred.
However, whereas before, the fire risk assessment was carried out by the fire and rescue services, the government had now passed on this responsibility to the owner, employer or whoever is responsible for the building.
We now know why a fire risk assessment is required and who is legally responsible, but who is suitable to carry out such an assessment? The Government, did at first give the impression that anyone with a minimal amount of experience could carry out a fire risk assessment, but as the commercial sector soon found out, carrying out a fire risk assessment was not as easy as portrayed.
If you have a very small and basic business or premises, then I would agree it is possible and reasonable for the employer to arrange for someone in the business with minimal training to carry out the assessment, but the norm, will be a professional risk assessor will be required.
A fire risk assessment put simply, is an assessment of the fire risks to occupants of a building, and other people in the vicinity of a building, and to ensure that those people are safe from the risk of fire and its effects.
If you’re responsible for people and/or a public space, the likelihood is that you will need to have a fire risk assessment performed. The government states that “You must keep a written record of your fire risk assessment if your business has five or more people. It is recommended that you have a FRA every four to five years, or whenever new structural or layout changes occur to your site.” Fire risk assessments are usually carried out by a professional risk assessor, the fee of which can vary depending on the size of the site and the complexity of the report required.
However, FRAs can be carried out by a competent individual, providing they follow strict guidelines and fill out the appropriate paperwork set out by the government. Guidance can be found in the Fire Regulatory Reform Order.
There are five main steps laid out by the government for conducting fire risk assessments.
1. Identify the fire hazards.
2. Identify people at risk.
3. Evaluate, remove, or reduce the risks.
4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan, and provide training.
5. Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly.