Introduction

In England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, those responsible for most types of non-domestic premises have a duty to make an assessment of the risk to people from fire, and implement suitable general fire precautions to minimise the risk to those people.

Often the duty holders do not have a clear understanding of their legal responsibilities or knowledge of fire safety matters. Not unreasonably, in this situation they turn to a commercial fire risk assessment organisation for professional help. The client may have expectations of the scope of the work, greater or less than that envisaged by the supplier. Misunderstandings about the scope of work carried out could result in costly commercial disputes or even the client being innocently led into contravening fire safety legislation.

This standard scope of services should be used by all organisations which maintain a high standard of quality, competency and ethics when submitting a fee proposal for an assessment of life safety provisions, to satisfy the requirements of the applicable fire safety legislation. The purpose of this standard scope of services is to clearly indicate to the client, the scope of assessment they are being offered.

This document is, in effect, a specification concerned with the technical aspects of the supply of services. It does not concern itself with the commercial aspects of a contract, which should be specified in the terms and conditions of purchase and/or sale.

Definitions

The definitions and interpretations listed below shall apply:

Client: The organisation indicated in the schedule.

Document: Includes, in addition to any document in writing, any drawing, map, plan, diagram, design, picture or other image, tape, disk or other device or record embodying information in any form.

Services: The services to be provided by the supplier to the client.

Supplier: The organisation indicated in the schedule.

Significant findings: Significant hazards and risks to persons that were found by the assessment; precautions already in place to protect persons from fire; and preventive and protective measures (ie general fire precautions or fire safety measures) that will be taken to address the hazards and risks identified by the risk assessment.

Site representative: Individual nominated by the client to assist the fire risk assessor.

Supplier’s representative: The supplier’s manager for the services.

A reference to a statute or statutory provision is a reference to it as it is in force for the time being, taking account of any amendment, extension, or re-enactment and includes any subordinate legislation for the time being in force made under it.

Scope

Life safety

The supplier will carry out a fire risk assessment to meet the requirements of relevant national life safety legislation. The supplier will inspect the site, discuss fire safety provisions with on-site staff and prepare a risk assessment report.

The fire risk assessment report will detail the significant findings of the assessment. Where necessary, the report will provide recommendations for additional measures the assessor deems necessary, to reduce or maintain risk from fire at a tolerable level.

As part of the requirement for the supplier to undertake this assessment, it would be necessary for the client to arrange for suitable access to all areas required to be inspected. This includes the provision of suitable facilities to gain access to ceiling voids etc, as needed during the inspection itself.

This does not imply that the assessor will inspect every void etc, but may simply sample selected locations.

This scope of services does not make provision for any client meetings, beyond the inspection, to discuss the assessment report and associated findings.

Design of any recommended facilities will be carried out by others or upon a new agreed scope of services.

Once the fire risk assessment inspection and report is completed and issued to the client, then this scope of services will be complete.

This scope of services and the fire risk assessment methodology within it, is intended to assess measures that facilitate the protection of people from fire. It may inherently assess property protection issues and business continuity to some extent, but that is not the primary purpose of the assessment proposed.

Documentation

There is no single correct means of documenting a fire risk assessment, nor are there specific definitive requirements within legislation for the content of a documented fire risk assessment, only that the ‘significant findings’ and any group or individual at risk are recorded. The supplier will therefore make a judgement as to what constitutes ‘significant findings’ and occupants especially at risk. However, the findings should include measures taken in the premises to satisfy the relevant fire safety legislation, and all additional measures that are recommended to be taken by the fire risk assessor.

The report only addresses those parts of the property which were accessible at the time of the visit, and all recommendations included within this report are solely based upon the evidence seen at the time of the inspection.

Risk assessment is a subjective process and no assurances can be guaranteed that subsequent inspections undertaken by enforcing authorities will not result in a different evaluation of the level of fire risk.

The supplier will provide a risk assessment report. The report will identify the principles of the approach to fire safety which has been adopted for the premises. It is intended that the fire risk assessment reports should, among other things, be used as a reference document, when changes or maintenance are carried out in the premises.

The supplier’s standard fire risk assessment reports will adopt a structured approach to the fire risk assessment, which largely follows the principles in PAS 79: 2012 and covers the nine steps to fire risk assessment established in PAS 79. A summary of the nine steps contained in PAS 79 are provided in Annex 1 (at the end of this document) for information but does not form part of this scope.

Should the client have any preference for an alternative scope of the fire risk assessment or the structure or layout of the report, then this is to be discussed and agreed with the client prior to commencement of work, and clearly defined within the schedule.

Duties of the client/employer

The supplier will require relevant information about the premises, the processes carried out in the premises, and the occupants of the premises. This information will be obtained by completion of a pre-assessment questionnaire by the client in advance of the assessment, interviewing the client, the client’s representative or the site representative. This information may be obtained from documents and/or through interview prior to carrying out, or in some measure during, the physical inspection of the premises.

The client’s representative will need to be afforded the time and access to enable the assessor to inspect all necessary areas and ask all relevant questions on the day of assessment. Failure to afford this information will hinder the production of the report and increase the time incurred in undertaking the FRA.

Methodology

On receipt of the client’s instruction to proceed, a representative of the supplier will contact the client’s representative and agree or confirm:

  • Time date and place of the fire risk
  • The identity and contact details of the site
  • Any special arrangements concerning health and safety which may include, but not be limited to, health and safety procedures, required personal protective equipment (PPE) and site safety

On completion of the risk assessment site visit, the fire risk assessor will debrief with the client’s representative (where present) before leaving the site.

A report will be compiled and forwarded to the client’s representative.

The fire safety standards on-site will be measured against a benchmark which may be based upon approved Codes of Practice, British or European Standards, Government or Agency Standards documents or Industry Standard documents.

The report may incorporate digital photographs where appropriate or where required by the client.

Inclusions

The documented fire risk assessment issued to the client by the supplier shall include the following:

  • The identity of the duty holder.
  • The exact location and extent of the premises that has been assessed.  Where the client has more than one site, more than one premises on a site or occupies only part of a site or premises, the documented fire risk assessment should contain sufficient detail to ensure that they client and interested party can identify the location covered by the fire risk assessment.
  • The date(s) on which the premises were visited by the assessor and the assessment was carried out.
  • The identity of key individuals from whom information was obtained as part of the assessment.
  • The criteria and recommended date by which the assessment should be reviewed.
  • The significant findings.
  • An overall assessment of risk.
  • Information required by relevant legislation.
  • A list of actions arising from the assessment indicating the severity and urgency, and an indication of the timescale in which each action should be completed.
  • A unique reference identifier.

The fire risk assessment shall identify all the important aspects of fire safety on the premises in the report, with sufficient supporting commentary to enable the client or the client’s representative, to comprehend the level and adequacy of life safety provision/s that should be provided on the premises.  the fire risk assessment shall be considered and documented the following:

  • The nature of the premises and the processes carried out on the premises.
  • Size, height, construction and use of premises.
  • Occupants of the premises, including those especially at risk in the event of fire.  This should include but not be limited to the public, people with disabilities and those who are especially at risk because of the nature of the work they do.
  • Previous fire incidents on or near the premises including the cause, where known, and any lessons drawn from the incident.
  • Involvement of enforcing authorities which result in additional duties being placed on the persons responsible for the premises.
  • Arrangements with the emergency services.
  • Information about potential causes of fire which should include, but not be limited to:
    • Arson
    • Electrical faults
    • Smoking
    • Portable heaters etc
    • Cooking
    • Lighting
    • Hot works
    • Housekeeping
    • Other significant ignition sources or process hazards
  • Process fire risks excluded from the scope of the fire risk assessment.
  • An appropriate overall risk matrix taking into account likelihood and consequence of fires arising from these causes and qualifying the overall risk.
  • Means for detecting fire and giving warning to occupants.
  • Means of escape from the premises (including provisions for disabled persons).
  • Fire safety signs and notices.
  • Emergency escape lighting.
  • Means to limit fire spread and development of fire.
  • Means for fighting fire.
  • Other relevant fire fighting systems and equipment; if provided.
  • Maintenance of facilities to assist fire fighters.
  • Emergency action plan.
  • Staff training and fire drills.
  • Testing and maintenance of fire protection measures.
  • Record keeping.
  • Cooperation and coordination with other occupiers of the premises and neighbouring premises.
  • Action plan.
  • An appropriate review period expressed.

The above list does not imply that the exact headings would be used or that they would be presented in the same order.

Access

Where readily accessible, unless specifically excluded, the assessor will inspect all parts of the premises.  Where relevant, this will include outbuildings, external stores and outdoor service premises.  Voids cupboards, ducts and service risers will be sampled.

Any part of the premises to which the assessor does not gain access shall be identified in the documented fire risk assessment.

Should dangerous conditions be encountered during the assessment, or hazardous practices observed, the assessor will bring the matter to the attention of a duty holder as soon as possible, where possible before leaving the site.  The assessor will not intervene or take any steps personally to resolve the situation.

Exclusions

Unless clearly stated to the contrary, the fire risk assessment will be non-intrusive.  That is to say the assessor will not:

  • Make any holes.
  • Apply any tools (eg screwdriver, hammer, crowbar).
  • Carry out any functional test of fire protection measures (eg operate smoke vents or emergency lighting).
  • Provide or use access equipment (other than short step ladders).
  • Carry out any measurements other than approximations of distance (eg sound pressure levels of fire alarms).
  • Take or analyse any samples (eg any part of the fabric of the premises, fire resisting materials or combustible/flammable materials).
  • Enter into any private dwelling in the case of flats, apartments, maisonettes or similar dwellings, other than as necessary to report properly on measures required under the relevant fire safety legislation (eg the fire resistance of flat entrance doors). Depending on the scope of the fire risk assessment and the legal jurisdiction, this may exclude houses in multiple occupation.

This scope of services does not include any follow-up meetings.

Where the fire risk assessor identifies a need for alterations or modifications to the premises, passive fire protection or active fire protection, the fire risk assessment will not include detailed method statements or a formal scope of services.

The fire risk assessment will not encompass property protection and business continuity issues.

The fire risk assessment will not include the production of drawings and will not include the marking of plan drawings.

The fire risk assessment will not include consideration of process related risks covered by COSHH and DSEAR legislation.

Health and Safety Considerations

The client will remain responsible for the health and safety of the assessor, while the assessor is on the client’s premises.

The client will provide the assessor with relevant information about significant health and safety hazards and control measures, including the presence of asbestos.

The assessor shall, where necessary, provide basic PPE including hard hat, high visibility jacket or waistcoat and protective footwear. The client shall provide PPE appropriate for all other hazards including, but not limited to, ear defenders, fall arresters, breathing apparatus and floatation aids.

Where safety training is required on-site, the client shall inform the supplier prior to any contract being agreed and provide the training free-of-charge.

During the assessment, all site safety rules and control measures will be observed.  No activities will be undertaken by the risk assessor that will create either additional hazard or raise the risk level from any existing hazard on-site.

The assessor may refuse to enter any area where the assessor suspects that their health and safety may be at risk.  The assessor will, as far as is practical, inform the site representative of the nature of the hazard. the assessor will not enter the area until or unless the hazard is removed or the assessor is satisfied that the risk has been reduced to a tolerable level.  The assessor will state on the risk assessment report, those areas not inspected and why.

Insurances

Professional Indemnity Insurance

The supplier undertakes and warrants that it currently maintains in force, professional indemnity insurance, without any material excesses or unusual exclusions taken out with reputable insurers carrying on business in the United Kingdom, up to a limited in respect of each and ever claim of not less than one million pounds, and that provided such insurance is available on reasonable commercial terms and rates in the insurance market, it shall maintain such insurance until 18 months after practical completion of the works.

Public Liability Insurance

The supplier undertakes and warrants that it currently maintains in force public liability insurance, without any material excesses or unusual exclusions taken out with reputable insurers carrying on business in the United Kingdom, up to a limit in respect of each and every claim of not less than one million pounds, and that provided such insurance is available on reasonable commercial terms and rates in the insurance market.

Employers Liability

The supplier undertakes and warrants that it has at all material times maintained and currently maintains in force, employers’ liability insurance, without any material excesses or unusual exclusions taken out with reputable insurers carrying on business in the United Kingdom in accordance with United Kingdom law.

 

Confidentiality and the Client's Property

The supplier will keep confidential all matters related to the client’s commercial activity.

Annex 1 (Informative) - Nine steps to fire risk assessment

Step 1

The fire risk assessor will require relevant information about the premises, the processes carried out in the premises, and the premises’ occupants. Information about previous fires will be of value to the assessor, particularly where the organisation has multiple sites with common operations. Before conducting a physical inspection of the premises, much of the relevant information will be obtained via a pre-assessment questionnaire completed by a relevant representative or the management. At this stage, relevant information must be obtained about the occupants of the premises, particularly those especially at risk in the even of a fire.

Step 2

The second step is fire hazard identification and the determination of measures to eliminate or control the identified fire hazards.  This will normally involve a combination of interviewing management and inspection of the premises.

Step 3

Make a subjective assessment of the likelihood of fire. This will be based primarily on the findings of step two. However, the assessment of the likelihood of fire will also consider any relevant information in step 1.

Step 4

Determine the physical fire protection measures relevant to the protection of people in the event of a fire. Again, the relevant information can be obtained partly from the pre-assessment questionnaire and the initial discussion with management but will primarily be obtained by inspection of the premises to determine the standard of fire protection.

Step 5

Determine relevant information about fire safety management. This will primarily involve discussion with management but might also involve examination of documentation such as records of testing, maintenance, training, drills etc.

Step 6

Make a subjective assessment of the likely consequences to occupants in the event of fire.  This assessment will consider the fire risk assessor’s opinion of the likelihood of various fire scenarios, the extent of injury that could occur to occupants in these scenarios and the number of people affected.  This assessment is principally based on the assessor’s findings in steps four and five but will consider the information obtained in the first step.

Step 7

Assess the fire risk and decide if the fire risk is tolerable. The fire risk is assessed by combining the likelihood of fire and the consequences of fire.

Step 8

Formulate an action plan if this is necessary to address shortcomings in the fire precautions in order to reduce the fire risk. Even if the fire risk is assessed as tolerable, there is often a need for minor improvements in fire precautions.

Step 9

Thereafter, the fire risk assessment is subject to periodic review.  Review of the fire risk assessment is necessary after a period of time defined in the fire risk assessment, or at an earlier time if changes take place, or if there are other reasons to suspect that the fire risk assessment is no longer valid, such as if a fire has occurred.