Do I need a fire risk assessment for my business premises?
Any premises where a business operates must undergo a fire risk assessment.
It is a legal requirement to record it if your business employs more than five people but, even in cases of fewer than five employees, maintaining a record is still good practice. On one hand, it helps you keep track of what actions you need to take to ensure your premises meet fire safety standards. On the other, recording your fire risk assessment provides evidence that one has been completed and thereby demonstrates compliance.
In the Fire Protection department, we constantly get the question: “How do I know if my premises complies with fire safety legislation?” The answer? Fire risk assessment!
The purpose of a fire risk assessment is to identify any fire safety deficiencies and provide recommendations as to how they can be rectified as well as a timeframe for completion of the required actions based on their urgency. In other words, a good fire risk assessment is essentially a work schedule, which, if it is adhered to, makes your premises safe from fire.
So what exactly is a fire risk assessment? The Home Office defines it as “an organised and methodical look at your premises, the activities carried on there and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in and around the premises.”
How detailed your risk assessment should be depends on a number of factors, for example, the size and complexity of the premises, the activities that take place there and the vulnerability of occupants. Such factors usually have an impact on the level of risk.
Regardless of the nature of your premises however, a fire risk assessment should be based on the steps below:
- Identify the fire hazards.
- Identify people at risk.
- Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks.
- Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training.
- Review the fire risk assessment regularly.
More information on fire risk assessments can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-risk-assessments
To ensure that your fire risk assessment has adequately considered all the risks, including those you may miss due to being familiar with the premises, it is recommended that you employ a professional fire risk assessor. You can search for fire risk assessors in your area on the Institution of Fire Engineers’ online register: https://www.ife.org.uk/Fire-Risk-Assessors-Register