A fire risk assessments is a practice that is intended to help you identify any fire risk and hazard in your premises. After the identification of the risks and hazards, you can then make a decision on whether the risks are within the acceptable range or if something must be done to mitigate and control them. This assessment is a legal condition for any person that owns, operates or manages a business. Every business must comply with the fire safety regulations which are contained in The Fire Safety Order of 2005. The Fire Safety Order puts the biggest emphasis on how to reduce and prevent the risk of fire. The law requires that fire risk assessment be carried out by a competent person known as a fire risk assessor. This person can be an outside contractor or someone within your company. However, finding the right person for this job is not as easy as it sounds because the competent person should have sufficient training, knowledge and experience on fire safety.
The process of carrying out fire risk assessment involves the following five steps
Step 1: Identifying the fire hazards
It is obvious that for fire to arise there must the source of fuel, ignition and oxygen. When these three conditions are present and mostly in close proximity, subsequently the risk of fire is increased as a result.
In most average premises, fire hazards mostly fall into the ignition and fuel categories, while oxygen is present in the surrounding air. Occasionally, oxygen may be found as gas in piped systems or cylinders, or in its chemical form (oxidizing agents). Potential sources of ignition include hot surfaces, naked flames, hot work, friction, arson etc. Potential sources of fuel include everything that burns like solids, liquids and gases.
Your fire risk assessments should list all the potential sources of fuels and ignition present in your premises.
Step 2: Identifying people at risk
The greatest danger when there is a fire is the spread of smoke, heat and the fire through the premises. The smoke and other products of combustion are the biggest risk to the people trying to escape because they can incapacitate them quickly. If the premise doesn’t have sufficient means of escape, then people may get trapped in before they can evacuate.
Step 3: Evaluating the risks
This involves assessing the effects of each specific hazard, taking into account any existing control measures already in place. Then, decide on whether to add any other control measures so as to mitigate the risk to the acceptable level.
Step 4: Recording your findings
Record all the significant findings of the fire risk assessment together with all the details of the people faced by each particular risk, where:
a) You are the employer and you have at least five employees.
b) An amendment notice under The Fire Safety Order wants it.
c) A license under a ratification is in force
Step 5: Reviewing and revising the fire risk assessment
Note that fire risk evaluation is an ongoing process. It must be audited and monitored regulary to ensure that existing and new control measures are working effectively.