Etchells Electrical Ltd, 849 Lincoln Road, Peterborough, Cambs PE1 3HG

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Fire Risk Assessments Risk assessments and Fire assessments Peterborough and nationwide

Fire risk assessments are needed to be carried out on premises under the regulatory reform order 2005 (fire safety). This means that most buildings other than private domestic dwellings, come under regulatory reform (Fire safety) order 2005

What does this mean?

The person responsible for the premises must provide and maintain sufficient fire precautions so that people can work in safety, or escape safely in the event of a fire or other serious event. This can only be done with a fire risk assessment.

Fire risk assessments should be carried out on the premises to identify fire risk/hazards and then should be recorded to establish what further action is needed to make the premises safe from fire hazards.

A Fire Risk Assessment

Step 1

Identify fire hazards

This is done by identifying 3 major factors that contribute to fire

Ignition, oxygen and fuel, if these 3 are in close proximity then this is where a high risk of fire could occur.

Potential fire hazards could be: naked flames, smokers, matches, pilot lights, gas/oil heaters, cookers etc

Other hazards include; engines and motors, boilers and machinery, lighting i.e. halogen or high heat intensity lamps, electrical equipment and appliances, hot works, welding, flame cutting equipment, soldering, static electricity, electrical contacts and switching.

In terms of fire risk assessments and hazards you would have to consider the above as ignition sources and also consider items that are a type of fuel and anything that can burn this potential fuel needs to be considered as a risk.

A few examples would include flammable liquids like petrol, paint thinners, solvents paints and varnishes, paper, card, wood, plastics, furniture and packaging waste. Also ensure that fire risks of LPG gases and high pressured containers are considered too.

Step 2

Identify people at risk

Anybody in the building is identified as a risk including employees, contractors, visitors, members of the public. They all need to be taken into account as a part of a fire risk assessment.

Fire risks and hazards should be pointed out to all the people mentioned above and guidance on raising any alarms should be given. The other method of warning people in the premises, is through a fire detection system which should be installed and maintained.

Escape routes should also be identified to people on the premises as a part of a fire risk assessment

Step 3

Evaluating the risks

You must assess the effects of any particular hazards, taking into account any existing control measures that are already in place. Once this has been done, you must decide if any further control measures are needed in order to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.

Further control measures may include;

  • Act to reduce the possibility of ignition.
  • Minimise the potential fuel load in the premises.
  • Assist people to escape from the effects of a fire, should it occur.

They may fall into a number of different categories, such as:

  • Fire safety management systems.
  • Means of escape.
  • Staff training.
  • Fire warning systems.
  • Means of fighting fire include fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire detection systems or means of alert.

Different control measures can be applied to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. For example, if the risk is the possibility of a fast growing fire, potential control measures could include one or any combination of the following;

  • Changing the process to use a slower burning fuel.
  • Removing or reducing possible ignition sources.
  • Moving the hazard to an area that affects the minimum number of people, for example, outside the premises.
  • Providing an additional exit/protected route to speed up the escape of the occupants.
  • Providing a fire detection and alarm system to warn people of the fire in its early stages.
  • Training staff to reduce the possibility of a fire occurring, for example, housekeeping/safe working practices.
  • Providing appropriate firefighting equipment / fixed installation, for example, sprinkler system.
  • Provide fire barriers to help reduce spread of fire

While this list is not exhaustive and applies to one area of risk only, it can be seen that there may be a number of different solutions depending on the nature of the situation.

If any areas of inadequacy are identified, an action plan must be included to show how the problem is being addressed. This should include timescales for achieving the required level of control and specify who is responsible for the action.
If your premises are situated in a relatively modern building it should already incorporate important control measures that were installed to meet the requirements of the building regulations, for example, fire escape staircases, fire lobbies, fire doors, emergency lighting etc.

Many of these measures will also be found in older buildings. If your building was issued with a fire certificate under the Fire Precautions Act, details of existing control measures will be detailed in that document.

You should include details of these existing control measures in your fire risk assessment. Remember, a full understanding and evaluation of the existing control measures is essential - it is your starting point for deciding if any further action is necessary.

You should plan, control, monitor and review all the fire safety arrangements.

Step 4

Record your findings

A fire risk assessment helps you identify all the fire hazards and risks in your premises. Here is the fourth of five steps to carrying out a fire risk assessment in the premises.

You must record the significant findings of your fire risk assessment, together with details of any people that are at particular risk,

  • A licence under an enactment is in force.
  • An Alterations Notice under the Fire Safety Order requires it.
  • You are an employer and have five or more employees.

More importantly, the record must show whether the existing control measures are adequate and, if not, what further action is required to reduce the fire risk to an acceptable level.

Remember to make sure any control measures identified or introduced remain effective by testing and maintaining them regularly. For larger premises you are encouraged to include a simple floor plan in your fire risk assessment. You can use the plan to record fire hazards and control measures in a simple format that is easily understood.

Step 5

Review and Revise

A fire risk assessment helps you identify all the fire hazards and risks in your premises. Here is the fifth of five steps to carrying out a fire risk assessment in the premises.

It is important to remember that fire risk assessment is a continuous process and as such must be monitored and audited.

New and existing control measures should be maintained to make sure they are still working effectively.

However, if you introduce changes into your premises your original risk assessment may not address any new hazards or risk arising from them. For this reason it is also important to review and revise your assessment regularly.

This doesn't mean that it is necessary to amend your assessment for every trivial change that occurs, but the impact of any significant change should be considered. For example:

  • A new work process may introduce additional fuels or ignition sources.
  • Changes to furniture layout or internal partitions could affect the ability for occupants to see a fire and escape in time.
  • Increasing the number of people may mean that a fire exit is now too small to cope with their escape within a safe period.
  • Occupying another floor of the building may mean that an electrical fire warning system is now necessary.

The above list is not exhaustive and any change that could lead to new hazards or risks should be considered.

Useful links

http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/FireRiskAssessment.asp
http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/GN_66.pdf
http://www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety/firesafetylaw/aboutguides/