Fire Risk Assessments

Fire risk assessments – not just another tick box exercise

Neil Munro Health & Safety

Fire risk assessments play a fundamental role in our national health and safety regime and are mandatory for commercial, industrial, and all other non-domestic premises. When used correctly they safeguard our workforces and help employers, landlords, and owners of non-residential buildings to meet their legal obligations.

If you’re responsible for dealing with the fire risks in your business it’s important to understand the actions you need to take, as failing to comply with the law has serious ramifications.

Are you a ‘responsible person’ under fire safety law?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005, places a duty on employers, or nominated ‘responsible persons,’ to ensure fire risks have been carefully considered and steps taken to minimise any dangers that can’t be eradicated.

Business owners typically have responsibility in this respect, but if other people also have some form of control over the business or the building in which it operates, they must all work together to ensure regulatory compliance.  

Considerations for fire risk assessments

The main goal of a fire safety risk assessment is to identify fire hazards with a view to eliminating them, or if this isn’t possible, minimise the risks. If there are five or more employees a document must be produced detailing the assessment, but it’s a good idea to write down the findings regardless of the number of building occupants.  

Additionally, this shouldn’t be a static document but one that’s reviewed if any changes are made to a building, or significant factors introduced that could impact fire health and safety. It’s also good practice to review the assessment results every 12 months.

What do fire risk assessments involve?

Depending on the nature of the business and building/premises, these are just some of the factors a fire risk assessor may look at:

  • Construction, layout, and use of the building
  • Number of employees, and whether there are any vulnerable occupants
  • Storage of inflammable or dangerous materials
  • Number and placement of emergency exit routes
  • Fire safety system as a whole, including fire fighting equipment, signage, and staff training
  • Electrical equipment, heating devices, and designated smoking areas

What happens if you fail to comply with fire safety law?

If you don’t carry out a regular fire risk assessment your local fire authority could serve a notice on your premises. You may be fined and/or prosecuted, and face imprisonment in the most serious cases.

Fire risk assessments aren’t just a tick box exercise – they’re about taking preventative measures to minimise risks. Acorn Safety Services are fire risk assessors providing health and safety services nationally and internationally.

Not only do we carry out fire risk assessments, but we also offer CAD drawing services if you don’t have professional drawings of your premises, CDM consultant services, and a range of other health and safety services that ensure compliance. For more information, please contact one of our experienced health and safety consultants