Fire Risk Assessment Guidance
What is a fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment is an organised and methodical look at your premises, the activities carried on there and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in and around the premises.
The aims of the fire risk assessment are:
To identify the fire hazards.
To reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm to as low as reasonably practicable.
To decide what physical fire precautions and management arrangements are necessary to ensure the safety of people in your building if a fire should start.
If your organisation employs five or more people, or your premises are licensed or an alterations notice requiring it is in force, then the significant findings of the fire risk assessment, the actions to be taken as a result of the assessment and details of anyone especially at risk must be recorded. You will probably find it helpful to keep a record of the significant findings of your fire risk assessment even if you are not required to do so.
A Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor
The Law says that your Fire Risk Assessment must be suitable and sufficient and that it must be carried out by a competent person/persons. A competent person is defined as someone with enough training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to be able to implement these measures properly. This person may be you, however, if either before or after reading the guides you feel that you do not have an appropriate knowledge or understanding of fire safety and the risk to people from fire to comply effectively with your legal duties you will need to appoint a specialist to carry out the risk assessment for you.
The Guide below is designed to assist you in choosing a competent Fire Risk Assessor in order that you may comply with the relevant legislation.
A Guide to Choosing a Competent Fire Risk Assessor (PDF, 399kb)
How do I carry out a fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment will help you determine the chances of a fire starting and the dangers from fire that your premises present for the people who use them and any person in the immediate vicinity.
Much of the information for your fire risk assessment will come from the knowledge your employees, colleagues and representatives have of the premises, as well as information given to you by people who have responsibility for other parts of the building. A tour of your premises will probably be needed to confirm, amend or add detail to your initial views.
It is important that you carry out your fire risk assessment in a practical and systematic way and that you allocate enough time to do a proper job. It must take the whole of your premises into account, including outdoor locations and any rooms and areas that are rarely used. If your premises are small you may be able to assess them as a whole. In larger premises you may find it helpful to divide them into rooms or a series of assessment areas using natural boundaries, e.g. areas such as kitchens or laundries, bedrooms, offices, stores, as well as corridors, stairways and external routes.
Under health and safety law (enforced by the HSE or the local authority) you are required to carry out a risk assessment in respect of any activities in your premises and to take or observe appropriate special, technical or organisational measures. If your health and safety risk assessment identifies that these activities are likely to involve the risk of fire or the spread of fire (for example in the kitchen or in a workshop) then you will need to take this into account during your fire risk assessment and priorities actions based on the level of risk.
You need to appoint one or more ‘competent persons’ (this could be you) to carry out any of the preventive and protective measures required. This person could be an appropriately trained employee or, where appropriate, a third party.
Fire risk assessment
Your fire risk assessment should demonstrate that, as far as is reasonable, you have considered the needs of all relevant people, including disabled people.
Step 1 - Identify the hazards within your premises
You need to identify:
sources of ignition such as naked flames, heaters or some commercial processes;
sources of fuel such as built-up waste, display materials, textiles or overstocked products; and
sources of oxygen such as air conditioning or medicinal or commercial oxygen supplies.
Step 2 – Identify people at risk
You will need to identify those people who may be especially at risk such as:
people working near to fire dangers;
people working alone or in isolated areas (such as in roof spaces or storerooms);
children or parents with babies; and the elderly or infirm and people who are disabled.
Step 3 – Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk
Evaluate the level of risk in your premises. You should remove or reduce any fire hazards where possible and reduce any risks you have identified. For example, you should:
replace highly flammable materials with less flammable ones;
make sure you separate flammable materials from sources of ignition; and
have a safe-smoking policy.
When you have reduced the risk as far as possible, you must assess any risk that is left and decide whether there are any further measures you need to take to make sure you provide a reasonable level of fire safety.
Step 4 – Record, plan, instruct, inform and train
In this step you should record, plan, instruct, inform and train. You will need to record the dangers and people you have identified as especially at risk in step 1 and step 2. You should also record what you did about it in step 3. A simple plan can help you achieve this.
You will also need to make an emergency plan, tailored to your premises. It should include the action that you need to take in a fire in your premises or any premises nearby.
You will need to give staff, and occasionally others, such as hotel guests or volunteer stewards, instructions. All employees should receive enough information and training about the risks in the premises. Some, such as fire marshals, will need more thorough training.
Step 5 – Review
You should make sure your fire-risk assessment is up to date. You will need to re-examine your fire-risk assessment if you suspect it is no longer valid, such as after a near miss and every time there is a significant change to the level of risk in your premises. This could include:
if you store more materials which can catch fire easily;
a new night shift starting; or
a change in the type or number of people using your premises.
Suggested Template for Recording a Fire Risk Assessment