Steps to Performing a Comprehensive Fire Risk Assessment

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that if you own or manage a non-domestic property you have a legal responsibility to protect everyone who works, lives or visits there from the threat of fire. This includes conducting, and regularly reviewing, a fire risk assessment, which has been developed to aid risk reduction and fire prevention.

According to the Fire Safety Order, the ‘responsible person’ must carry out – or employ a fire safety expert to carry out – a comprehensive fire risk assessment, recording all the findings and implementing any remedial measures necessary.

The 5 steps to performing a fire risk assessment, as laid out by the Health and Safety Executive and GOV.UK, are:

#1 Identify the fire hazards

This first step involves identifying anything within your property that could be a potential fire hazard. Fires start when heat comes into contact with fuel and oxygen, so this means thoroughly considering how a fire could start within your environment and what could subsequently burn.

For example, if you have electrical equipment – such as heaters and computers – they could be a source of ignition and any textiles or paper surrounding them could significantly intensify a fire.

#2 Identify people at risk

Everyone within your property at the time of a fire is at risk. However, it is important to consider whether the risk for some is greater. This could be because they work with particularly hazardous materials or equipment, work in secluded areas, work at night or are unfamiliar with the property (such as customers or guests). Furthermore, children, the elderly and the disabled are particularly vulnerable in the event of a fire.

#3 Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks

After completing steps one and two, you must thoroughly evaluate the results, analysing the hazards present within your environment and the people who are at risk. You should then think about how best to completely remove or significantly reduce the fire risks you have found. This includes implementing safety precautions, such as removing piles of waste, conducting PAT testing and arranging for fire alarm system and fire extinguisher installation.

#4 Record, plan and train

If your business has 5 or more employees, or has a licence, your fire risk assessment must be kept as a written record – detailing all fire hazards and the measures that have been taken to reduce them.

Following this, you must make clear, complete plans of what would happen in the event of a fire – including planning escape routes – and make sure everyone is informed of these processes and adequately trained.

#5 Review

Finally, your fire risk assessment should be regularly and periodically reviewed, updating the records if necessary. Additionally, if you identify any significant changes, you should reassess your risk assessment and fire evacuation plans, informing and re-training staff where necessary.