To Begin – why a Fire risk assessment ?
Carrying out a comprehensive fire risk assessment, on your occupied space/building, as part of your fire safety plan is incredibly important. If you don’t pick up on certain hazards or potential sources of ignition, this can have serious health and safety, as well as financial repercussions. It is also a legal requirement, if you own/manage a building which is multi-occupied, or if you are an employer.
We would always recommend having a qualified professional to carry out your assessment, as they have knowledge, experience and will be up to date with the latest legislation. Below are a few important things you should be aware of, that should be included in your next fire risk assessment, as a guide.
A fire hazard can be anything which has the potential to start a fire. This can be the self-evident, eg. someone leaving candles burning when they leave their flat or a tea towel left too close to the gas hob. Fires can be caused by many situations, not all of them are obvious.
You can’t control everything, such as the conduct of your tenants or employees, but you can identify the potential hazards, so you can reduce the overall risk, to an acceptable level.
In your fire risk assessment, be clear about the specific hazards you’ve identified and record them. Whether it’s objects which could potentially start a fire (ignition source) or areas which could help the fire to grow and spread (fuel). Implement measures to prevent these things leading to potential dangers in the future.
The benefit and overall reason for identifying them and taking action is to preserve human life. The below list is not exhaustive but can help to guide:
Ignition Sources and Hazards
Faulty electrical equipment and appliances
Candles and matches
Portable heating systems
Cookers and ovens next to flammable items
An open fireplace
Once you’ve established the potential sources of ignition, there is also the fuel for fire to get established and grow. This also needs to be identified and then managed, so that it is stored correctly or kept to minimum levels. This could be for example:
- Paper, wood, cardboard
- Workshop equipment, such as flammable sprays, thinners or oils
- Cooking oil
- Furniture/floor covering
Who are you responsible for?
Once you are aware of potential hazards that can start a fire, you can then identify who may be at risk in your premises.
Persons who are at additional risk and therefore more vulnerable, could include:
- People with cognitive, mobility or visual impairment
- The elderly and infirm
- People working in isolated areas
- People sleeping
- Visitors/contractors, unfamiliar with the layout
These people may require additional help, in an emergency.
Then there are areas of risk which could impede escape and this causes risk to all occupants. Means of escape should always be kept clear and free of hazards, which could impede a quick escape.
- Large boxes or items blocking corridors or exits
- Windows leading onto fire escapes, which aren’t of the correct fire resistance
- Fire resisting doors leading onto the escape, propped open or damaged.
- Locked fire exits
People’s behaviour is one of the biggest fire safety risks. Whether it’s occupants of a shared house or your employees. Individuals can unknowingly cause fires due to their actions, through a lack of knowledge/understanding or training. It is always advisable to communicate the various fire risks to the people who frequently occupy your premises.
Changes for the future
A new Fire Safety Bill https://www.gov.uk/government/news/fire-safety-bill is currently going though parliament and it will affect many Building owners, of Multi-Storey and Multi-occupied Residential Buildings, as well as Flat owners.
The Ministry of Housing issued guidance in January,https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-safety-advice-for-building-owners-including-fire-doors which is already being used by Mortgage lenders and building insurers, ahead of the bill being introduced into Law.
At https://fireriskassessments.com/ we can help you identify all of the above risks, as well as get ready for the future changes. We can help you to produce a Fire safety policy and emergency plan, so you can communicate with your tenants and staff, We can also help with basic fire safety training. Get in touch and we’ll help secure your property and business for the future.