Fire risk assessments help a business to identify the potential risks of fire to its customers, employees and property. A good fire risk assessment should identify the potential fire hazards on your site to reduce or eliminate these hazards to ensure the safety of your occupants. Effective fire safety measures cannot be taken if you don’t recognise the specific fire risks on your site. Every year, businesses with more than 5 employees are legally required to carry out a fire risk assessment. This is in line with the regulatory reform (fire safety) order 2005.
It’s tempting to ignore this, thinking “It won’t happen to me.” But if a fire does happen on your premises, and you fail to comply with your legal obligations as a business owner you could be fined and even go to jail. In 2021, a London business was fined over £80,000 due to safety failures which “risked the lives of a significant number of people”.
Most people think they are well informed about fire safety, but only know about outdated systems. For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about fire safety is a sprinkler system. However, this technology is now outdated, and it can damage or destroy your business premises in the course of fighting a fire. In today’s world, that’s not a sacrifice you’re willing to make, especially if it’s a false alarm.
There are many other fire detection /suppression systems on the market today. Before you start expanding your building with state-of-the-art technology, it’s important to conduct a risk assessment to identify the issues on your site.
Conducting fire risk assessment
In theory, any employee can perform a fire risk assessment. However, the law stipulates that this should be done by an employee who is ‘suitable for the task’. In most cases, this will be a senior member of staff who understands the significance of this task. This could be a manager or a supervisor. As your business owner, it is your responsibility to appoint this person.
Identify fire hazards – This could be anything from electrical equipment to heating devices that could be a source of ignition.
Identify people at risk – This should include the total number of staff, potential customers, and any staff members with health or mobility issues. This is particularly important if you operate in high-rise buildings such as block of flats.
Review existing detection/suppression systems – Reviewing your existing fire protection systems to ensure they are correctly installed, maintained, and working properly, including testing fire alarms.
Evaluate, reduce or remove risks – Once you’ve identified areas of concern, you’ll need to take action based on what you’ve learned. This includes ensuring key areas are free of hazards, that escape routes are adequate and easy to access, and that you’ve taken action to reduce risks due to any identified issues.
Record significant findings and assess existing protocol – Keep detailed logs of the fire hazard assessment and evaluate your existing emergency plan in relation to this new assessment. Ensure that the appropriate testing and maintenance processes are in place, as well as updating/improving your existing emergency plan.