A fire risk assessment is the process of evaluating a building from a five prevention perspective. It’s a way of identifying potential risks and learning from the behaviour of the people who live or work in a building, in order to strengthen the building’s defences against fire.
During a fire risk assessment, professionals will often be able to suggest different ways of reducing the risk of a fire even further, giving a building and its occupants the best level of protection.
In this article, we’ll talk more about fire risk assessments, from what they are to why they’re needed. Then, we’ll take you through the steps of a fire risk assessment, giving you all the information you need to manage a full assessment of your own home or business.
What is a fire risk assessment?
The term fire risk assessment refers to the process of checking a building and assessing the level of risk that fires could present. It’s designed to provide recommendations on how safety could be improved for a building’s occupants.
A full fire risk assessment will be able to identify all kinds of potential dangers, which could potentially increase the harm that a fire could do. Assessments then provide recommendations on how these hazards could be minimised, along with advice on other ways that better fire protection could be provided to the building’s occupants.
Why are fire risk assessments needed?
In many cases, a fire risk assessment is a legal requirement. Anyone with responsibility for a building (for example employers and owners) is required to complete a full assessment regularly. The only exception to this rule is for private households.
Businesses with five or more employees are legally obliged to keep a written record of their fire risk assessment. Such assessments should be checked and refreshed at regular intervals, to avoid any out of date information being included. If significant changes are made to the building itself (whether interior or exterior), a new risk assessment must be carried out to reflect these alterations.
Businesses shouldn’t just be carrying out risk assessment because they’re legally obliged to do so, though. The damage that a fire can cause can be devastating for any business, particularly if the fire spreads quickly through a company’s office spaces or warehouses. Fire risk assessments significantly limit the risk of this happening, so it’s good business sense to prioritise these assessments.
How to conduct a fire risk assessment
Many businesses choose to conduct their own fire risk assessments. In most cases it’s perfectly possible to do so. However, companies with larger premises or more complex layouts will often opt to hire a professional instead.
Professionals tend to have many more recommendations on how fire safety can be improved, thanks to the specialist experience that they bring to the table. And of course, the written records provided by professional inspectors will allow a business to show that it has done all it can to limit the risk of a fire.
If you’re interested in conducting your own fire risk assessment, we recommend you follow the five steps outlined below.
Step 1: Identify the hazards
Begin by walking around the exterior of the building, before venturing inside and checking the full interior of your building for potential fire hazards.
Bear in mind that some potential risks won’t be immediately obvious, so you’ll need to take your time and check carefully to ensure that you don’t miss anything.
Step 2: Identify who might be in danger
If you have over five members of staff working within your building, you’ll need to spend time identifying who might be at risk from a fire, and how the risks could differ depending on where staff are located in your premises.
Some staff will be at greater risk than others, and some might require more protection from fire hazards as a result. Check who is most at risk and make a record of any potential problems that you identify.
Step 3: Decide how you can remove or reduce risks
While it’s not possible to completely remove the risk of a fire, there are many things that you can do to reduce the level of risk that a fire presents. Think about how you might be able to remove risks or reduce them, through five prevention strategies and fire protection methods.
Consider whether the addition of new technology such as sprinkler systems or the installation of more specialised fire extinguishers could help in the event of a fire. Look into other options that may be suitable for your business, such as the application of fire retardant sprays and paint coatings.
There are many ways to remove or reduce the risk of a fire. Look into all of the options before you move onto the next step.
Step 4: Make a record of your findings
Businesses with five employees or more are legally required to hold a recorded copy of their fire risk assessment, but we’d advise that companies of any size do so.
Make a record of everything you’ve found during your fire risk assessment. Record all hazards that were identified, then show how these hazards have been dealt with through fire prevention strategies.
Ensure that all fire protection technology is covered in your assessment, so that the record gives the full picture on how employees are being kept safe from fire risks.
Step 5: Review and update your assessment
Once you’ve completed your fire risk assessment, you might think the hard work is done. But fire risk assessments should be reviewed at regular intervals and updated whenever necessary. Keep your assessment up to date to ensure that your current level of fire protection never wavers.
Fire risk assessments are just one part of the fire protection strategies that businesses and residential buildings need.If you’d like to find out more about how you could increase the level of protection in your own home or business, talk to our team. We specialise in non-toxic, water-based fire retardants that can safely be used in homes and workplaces alike. Contact us to find out more.