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What is a Fire Risk Assessment or FRA
It is the process of systematically evaluating the factors that determine the hazard from a fire or multiple fires presented to a property or the business, including the likelihood that there will be a fire and the consequences if one were to occur.
A basic qualitative fire risk assessment based on PAS 79 will suffice for most small business property situations, but it is always advisable to seek a professional viewpoint if you are unsure.
Do I have to have one?
Yes under the UK legal systems, however there are few exceptions.
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, a fire risk assessment is necessary in virtually all buildings in England and Wales, other than private or domestic property.
Similar requirements apply in Scotland under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, and in Northern Ireland under the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.
Can I do it myself?
Yes, if you consider you have the competence to do so and are prepared to commit the time or resources to do so. In professional environments it may be prudent (and cost effective) however to use a qualified company to do so, (at least initially) it is important to recognise that the person carrying out the fire risk assessment should also be competent to do so.
How do I quantify a competent person?
A competent person may be regarded as a person with sufficient training, experience and knowledge, to enable them to carry out a defined task properly.
Most professional consultants undertaking fire risk assessments are listed on the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) – Register of Fire Risk Assessors and Auditors. In order to be listed on the Register they must have demonstrated their competence to the IFE, and this is based on objective criteria (including samples of their work in fire risk assessments).
What does it entail?
A fire risk assessment involves a physical inspection of the premises to determine the adequacy of the existing fire precautions and the need for any further prevention measures.
In addition to the physical inspection, a full review of fire safety management procedures within the organisation and consideration of the human elements will need to be undertaken – for example how people will respond to an emergency and whether they will take appropriate action as trained or whether group panic could undermine that.
In the case of a fire risk assessment aimed at satisfying the requirements of legislation, the objective of the risk assessment will primarily be the safety of the occupants of the building eg: protecting Life over property damage.
Well managed fire protections, training and response systems are also highly beneficial to property protection, including reducing business interruption from a fire and most insurance companies will give discounts to businesses that can provide evidence of above average management of this risk.
Certain types of business are very susceptible to fire hazards and as a result Insurers will pay particular attention to these elements. We can advise as to how this can be used to your advantage!
What Hazards are normally considered?
A fire risk assessment would normally include some or all of the following aspects of fire safety:
- Fire inception hazards, Fire prevention methods, Storage and handling of flammable liquids and gases, Housekeeping in general (flammable waste materials)
- Methods of escape, Compartmentation at the premises, Flammability of the overall construction, Emergency escape lighting and warning systems.
- Fire safety signs and notices, Fire detection and fire alarm systems, Fire extinguishing systems and appliances such as sprinklers.
- Smoke control systems, Inbuilt Facilities for use by the fire and rescue service.
- Arrangements for management of fire safety, Fire event procedures, Regular Training and drills, Testing and maintenance and Record keeping.
- Previous Fire loss experience.
Our advisors are all qualified to discuss and guide you in your needs for fire risk assessments as part of your insurance review, although we are not qualified to undertake them.
If required, we can provide contact details for several local companies whom we trust to assist.
For more information, please contact us on 01732 252898
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