What is a fire risk assessment?
You should always look to have a fire risk assessment in respect of your property every 5 years. When managing a property that you are controlling the fire risks. You have to protect against risks of fire. Firstly, identify the risks. Secondly, this is where the risk assessment comes in. There is a legal requirement for non-domestic fire risk assessments. I.e. commercial property you will need to have a fire risk assessment. Please see attached for more information – https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-risk-assessments
What is the law?
The law comes under the regulatory reform (fire safety) Order 2005. This came into force in October 2006. It replaced more than seventy pieces of different regulation on fire risk. It applies to all non-domestic premises. Including the common parts of blocks of flats and houses in multiple occupation.
What does the Act say?
The Act lays out that a responsible person must ensure that a fire risk assessment has been undertaken. It must be by a competent person. It must be implemented. A fire risk management plan must be maintained.
A generic risk assessment must be undertaken. You may employ a fire risk safety specialist. However, you need to have qualifications to ensure this is done correctly. Ensure that the assessments have been undertaken. You are responsible for an up-to-date fire management plan. You must make sure this plan is implemented. This must be done every 5 years.
It states that either an employer, or a person who has control of the premises is responsible. This also relates to business or trade or the owner of the property.
There are various Government Departments that deal with this.
- The local Government Regulation
- The Department of Communities and local Government Guides
- The local Government Association and the Health and Safety Executive.
The Health and Safety Executives state that there are various problems as follows: –
General Fire Safety Hazards
Fires are normally started by three things, a source of ignition, a source of fuel and oxygen.
Sources of Ignition can be.
- Naked flames
- Electrical equipment
- Smoker’s materials
- Electrical installation
- Anything that can cause heat or cause sparks.
There are also other items such as:
- Loose packaging
These can all be combustible.
What do the Health and Safety Executives say I must do?
They need you to carry out the following:-
- A fire risk assessment
- Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart
- Avoid accidental fires.
- Ensure good housekeeping.
- Avoid build up of rubbish that can burn.
- Consider how to detect fires, potentially install smoke alarms, and fire alarms.
- Have the correct firefighting equipment for putting out a fire quickly.
- Keep fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed.
- Ensure your workers receive proper training on procedures.
- Review this on a regular basis and at least every five years.
Dangerous substances can cause fire and explosion. You must ensure there are none of these items. This includes any form of storage, vapours, and dusts.
What are the key points to remember from the Health and Safety Executive?
They state that you need to look at the following:-
- a) Think about the risk of fire and exposure from substances you use or create
- b) You supply safety details on any form of sheet or anything that is flammable
- c) Make sure that there is nothing flammable stored at the property
- d) Keep sources of ignition and substances that burn apart
- e) Get rid of any flammable or explosive substances
- f) Renew your fire risk regularly and at least every five years
If you manage your own building you need to ensure that you carry out a fire risk assessment. You are in control. It is important that these works are carried out.
You need to have a qualified person to do the fire risk assessment. They will attend the premises and check the common area. They will then compile a report. This report will have recommendations that need to be followed through.
What do they take into account in the report?
They take the following into account: –
- The property
3. Occupants at risk
4. Fire loss
5. Relevant information
6. Relevant fire safety and station of method
7. Electrical sources of ignition
10. Portable heaters and heating installations
11. Lightning conduction
13. Hazards introduced by outside contractors and building
14. Other fire hazards
15. Means of escape from fire
16. Measures to limit fire spread and development
17. Emergency lighting
18. Signs and notices
19. Fire alarms
21. Management procedures and arrangements
23. Fire fighter safety and access
24. Fire risk assessment matrix
They will then have an action plan together with photographs.
The report will lay out the general information stating exactly what type of property. How it was built. The approximate square footage of the building. It will state how many people live in the property. It will lay out the legislation that fire risk comes under. This includes the HMG fire safety sleeping and accommodation guide 2006. It also includes the LACORs housing fire safety 2008.
It will lay out the electrical hazards and whether there is any work that is required on these. Layout where there are any issues in respect of arson. Portable heating installations. The rest of the report will deal with the main management of the building. The signs together with any form of lighting and fire alarm system. This report includes means of fire escape at the property. Any recommendations that may also need improving.
These must be carried out within a specific period. They are normally done by way of a fire risk assessment matrix. This is laid out as slight harm, moderate harm, and extreme harm. There are low, medium, and high risks. These need to be considered. They will give an action and time scale for these works to be carried out.
They often include recommendations as follows: –
- Any boiler and electrical intake consumer units. Distribution on escape routes normally enclosed in a 30-minute fire resistant material. These include intumescent and cold smoke seals to any opening.
- An EICR report which (please see our previous article) has to be carried out every five years.
- Smoke free legislation signs up in relation to the property
- Arson which normally relates to an anti-arson letterbox etc.
- Fire doors. There are various fire doors in relation to properties. Most are required to be a minimum FD30. This is which is 30 minutes that they can burn without being destroyed. These include cold smoke seals and intumescent strips. They are at the top and edges of the door to prevent the passage of smoke and fire. These all come under a British Standard BS8214:2008 and hinges under BSEN1935:2002: minimum grade CFD30
- Compartmentation. This includes any protecting of pipes or cables and services. This would be through floors and is at least 30-minute fire resistant.
- Fire alarm system. There are various fire alarm systems. They may recommend different ones for different types of property. But normally this is a category LD2 grade D automatic smoke detection. They would be in the common area. They include integral sounders and heat detectors in each flat in the ceiling.
- Fire extinguishers. These may also be required
- Fire safety arrangements. This is the detail of what needs to be done by the tenants. This needs to be kept in the building.
The above is only a guide of what may be required as each individual property is different. It is something you need to check.
There is also a guide form LACORs that come under Housing and Fire Safety and we have detailed this out under a separate article
You must be aware of what your legal requirements are. Recent events have taken place where these may change. If you do not have a fire risk assessment you should have one carried out. Any recommendations should be done within the time limit. They differ from property to property. So, it is important that you use a professional to do this.