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Carrying out a fire risk assessment

A Recommended 5 Step Process

Government guidance suggests a five step process to carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment. In order to meet with the requirements of the Regulatory Reform Order (2005), it is a good idea to follow this advice. It applies to all businesses with 5 or more employees and where a licence or registration is required.

1. Find and list the hazards – what could start a fire?
A fire starts where there are three components: an ignition source, fuel and oxygen (from air!). These are your fire hazards.
Ignition sources could include:

  • lighting
  • electrical equipment
  • naked flames from cookers, candles or other equipment
  • cigarettes
  • welding or other hot works
  • heaters
  • office equipment or anything that becomes hot

Fuels include:

  • Flammable liquids such as paint, varnish, methylated spirits
  • paperwork, stationary etc
  • packaging materials
  • soft furnishings such as curtains, sofas or other fabrics
  • plastics and flammable gases
  • solid fuels such as wood or coal

2. Pinpoint who is at risk – this includes permanent employees working on the premises, contractors, occasional employees, visitors, cleaners, night workers, security staff and those with disabilities.

3. Assess the Risks – are there precautions in place and are they adequate? If not, is further action required?

  • List the further actions.
  • Assess the risk of those hazards that could result in a fire. Assess the risk these hazards present to the people you have already identified.
  • Remove or manage the fire hazards – sources of ignition, fuel or air (e.g. ensure fire doors are not wedged open, reduce the possibility of fire spread by keeping doors and windows closed as much as possible, especially at night. Reduce the amount of flammable liquids and gases if possible, keep waste storage in a designated space etc)
  • Eliminate or manage the risk to people – know and record who is on the premises, and make sure there are only the number of people on site, at any one time, that your fire exits/escape routes can cope with.

4. Record the Findings – Based on the results, consider which of the following need to be implemented:

  • Update and check fire safety equipment and signs – are there adequate means to fight fire, detect fire and warn and protect all people on site and stop the spread of fire? This includes consideration of the fire alarm system and emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, signs and fire doors
  • Provide training – for all staff annually and especially for new staff as soon after they join your organisation as possible
  • Provide information to staff – You should inform them about:
    • What to do when a fire breaks out
    • Details of any personnel with special roles
    • What risks were identified in the Fire Risk Assessment
    • What management measures are being implemented to reduce these risks
    • The correct escape routes from different areas
    • The fire alarm system, including break call points and the way it is used to protect the property and people and when permission is needed before carrying out any work that may involve triggering the smoke detectors or fire alarm system
    • What fire fighting equipment or other safety equipment is available and where it is kept
  • Prepare written emergency plans – Explain what people should do in the event of a fire, including special roles and responsibilities for individuals
  • Fire Safety Training – the responsible person is legally required to ensure this takes place, including arrangements for contacting the fire services
  • Liaise with other users of the building – those people not associated with your business

5. Review the Fire Risk Assessment – ideally this should be annually unless the premises or working practices undergo major changes in-between, in which case it should be completed sooner. Check that the risk reduction measures are being implemented and are working.

If you are the responsible person for your company, you also need to maintain your fire alarm system in good working order. BWS Standfast are expert in carrying out design, installation, monitoring and maintenance of fire alarm systems in Bristol, Bath, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. We can remove this aspect of your role and provide comprehensive reports.

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