What are the 5 steps in a Fire Risk Assessment?
Conducting a Fire Risk Assessment can seem to be quite a complex process for many people. You may have heard that there are 5 steps but what is involved? How should you approach a Fire Risk Assessment?
Here’s a simple guide to the 5 main steps in a Fire Risk Assessment:
Identify fire hazards
- Think about how a Fire could be started in the property. Fire starts when a source of ignition (heat) meets combustible materials. You may have heard this referred to as the fire triangle
- What sources of Ignition are in your building? Some sources of ignition may be obvious, such as electrical meters, heaters, naked flames, cooking equipment etc. Some might not, for example overload of electrical sockets. we all use extension leads but do we consider what we’re plugging in and what power each item requires. If leaving items such as phones/laptops charging, are they left in too long, are they overheating?
- What materials are combustible / flammable and would burn easily? Some examples of this may include rubbish, furniture and textiles, cardboard/wooden furniture. More recently the increased use of hand sanitiser has introduced a flammable substance into areas, which may not normally house anything combustible, for example entrance lobbies.
Identify people at risk
- All people are at risk in the event of a fire breaking out. Think about who is in the building/nearby and what time of day/night they will be there.
- Some people will be at higher risk than others, for example those with mental or sensory impairments or those with mobility issues. Those at greater risk may also include contractors and visitors who are not familiar with the property. People who are sleeping on a premises are also at a higher risk, as it takes longer to alert a sleeping person and then there is additional time for them to react to the warning. Who might be more vulnerable if a fire starts?
Evaluate and Take Action
- After thinking about potential hazards and who may be affected, think about the what action can be taken. What can be done to eliminate these risks or prevent accidental fires from happening? Education and training, is vitally important. The more occupants of the building understand causes of fire, the more they can help to prevent it.
- You also need to protect people in the building should a fire break out. In the event of a fire occurring, how will people be alerted? How will they escape? Are the escape routes safe? Will the Fire Safety Equipment work? Regularly testing and maintaining fire safety equipment, should be an important part of the fire safety regime.
Record Findings, Plan and Train
- Make sure that you keep a record of any hazards found in your property, as well as the actions taken to reduce or remove them. For employers, it is only a legal requirement to keep a written record of your assessment, if you have more than 5 employees. Recording findings however, will help to highlight recurring areas of concern, which in turn may highlight training issues or maintenance requirements. Having a written record, also shows you’ve taken every precaution to mitigate the risks, should a fire occur. .
- You should have a clear plan on what everyone should do if a fire does break out – if you share the building with others you may have to coordinate with them. If you employ persons on the premises you must carry out at least one fire drill a year and in some cases you may have to train staff as fire wardens/marshalls, to help maintain fire safety and ensure evacuation is carried out in a timely manner.
Review and update regularly
- Regularly review your Fire Risk Assessment – over time the risks or hazards in a building may change. This can be changes in occupancy either increase or decrease, both day time and at night. Fire safety management could have changed, it could have become more robust or it may have lapsed. Fire safety equipment may have become less efficient over time and require replacement Check to make sure that it is still up to date, no significant changes have been made, and all hazards/risks have been suitably addressed.
- Should any significant changes be made to the building, including layout, or the use of the building, a new Fire Risk Assessment should be conducted
Risk to life and risk of fire occuring
Overall a fire risk assessment takes into consideration all aspects of both the potential for fire to start and the overall risk this poses to the occupants. Having a high risk of a fire starting in your premises does not always mean it is unsafe. This could potentially be mitigated by having a very robust fire safety management sytem in place, alongside some very effective fire protection equipment. On the flip side, it may be a very low risk of fire occuring in the premises, but due to lack of any fire safety management and out of date fire protection equipment, the risk to persons in the premises could be quite high.
Click here if you want to find out how we carry out a fire risk assessment for you and what the report will include.