The Fire Risk Assessment should be the cornerstone of the fire safety plans for a specific building
Unfortunately Fire Risk Assessments are often overlooked, which can lead to buildings being exposed unnecessarily to fire risk, sometimes with the potential for loss of life.
At the most basic level, a FRA is a review taken of a building to assess it for fire risk, and to provide recommendations to make it safer if need be.
A Fire Risk Assessment does not have to be written down if there are fewer than 5 regular occupants in a building, so a Fire Risk Assessment is not necessarily a document.
However, it is recommended having a Fire Risk Assessment written down, as this is the simplest way to communicate the findings and to make sure that the recommendations have been carried out.
There are some specific guidelines concerning Fire Risk Assessments
1. It must be reviewed regularly
Changes in the layout of the building, the use of it, or the type of occupant can make a big difference to the fire safety plans, so it’s important to conduct a Fire Risk Assessment review if any of these take place.
2. It must be written down
If the building usually has more than 4 residents at any one time, then you must legally document your Fire Risk Assessment.
However, as already mentioned, it is recommended having the assessment written down whatever the size of the premises.
There are a couple of other circumstances in which the Fire Risk Assessment must be written down even if there are fewer than 5 regular occupants. These are:
3. It must record the main findings and the actions to be taken
Whether written down or not, there are 2 parts to a Fire Risk Assessment that must be produced.
One is the review itself, which will assess the fire safety of the premises against a number of points.
The other is the list of recommendations which should be acted on for the building to be fire safety compliant.
It is so important to act on these recommendations because ultimately this is what will keep the building safe.
By law, every business and block of flats must have a designated ‘Responsible Person’, accountable for fire safety.
It is the designated Responsible Person’s job to make sure the relevant fire safety duties are carried out and that action is taken to prevent fires happening, and also to prevent injury or death if a fire does actually happen.
It is therefore the Responsible Person who should make sure the building has a valid Fire Risk Assessment.
The Chief Executive is generally the Responsible Person for your relevant stock, unless this function has been specifically delegated.
It is absolutely the right as an occupant of a building to have access to the premises’ Fire Risk Assessment
Fire Risk Assessments should be comprehensive and take into account many different fire risk factors
The level of detail in an individual review will depend to a large extent on the complexity of the building. For example, a ‘single-compartment’ building, such as a meeting room or entrance to a small block of flats will have far less to review than a large office block, or tower block of flats.
Whilst every Fire Risk Assessment is different, the assessor will be checking the following fire risk and fire prevention factors as a matter of course:
Legal guidelines state that a Fire Risk Assessment can be carried out by a ‘competent person’. This does not necessarily mean an organisation must use a qualified Fire Risk Assessor.
However it does mean that whoever carries out the Fire Risk Assessment should be comfortable assessing the premises against all of the factors listed above.
They should also be able to:
For all but the most simple of premises, it is recommended using a professional Fire Risk Assessor.
Professional Fire Risk Assessors undertake substantial and detailed training and will be fully versed in the latest legal requirements and guidelines, including how to apply them to different types of building.
The penalty for not having a Fire Risk Assessment and, in particular, not having implemented the correct fire safety precautions, is prosecution resulting in severe fines, or in cases of extreme negligence, a prison sentence.
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