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Fire risk assessment and why you need them

What is a risk assessment?

Whether you are looking at Health & Safety or Fire risk assessments the object is the same, to assess the risk for any given area then through a series of actions you remove or reduce the risk to as low as possible. If the risk can't be removed then you must look at ways to protect staff and property by implementing procedures and or equipment to aid with protection. Risk management is an ongoing task and should be updated on a regular basis.

Fire risk assessment - a guide for businesses

So if you are looking at carrying out your own fire risk assessment what do you need? A fire risk assessment template would be good however all businesses are different so a template would only be a guide. The government have produced guide books covering different types of businesses, these guides are located in our download page and are also available from the deputy prime ministers site. In addition to the use of the guide you will need the fire reform order which is also on the download page. Additional information will be required subject to your business covering any chemicals you use or hot works etc.

So who should do a risk assessment?

The risk assessor should be competent to carry out the assessment, this means that they should have an understanding of the risks, they will need to be able to assess fire barriers such as doors and walls to ensure that they can withstand fire for the required time. have fire escape routes been planned correctly are they free from risks? Have the correct early warning system been implemented, are the correct fire extinguishers located in the correct places? Have the staff had the correct training and induction in the use of fire extinguishers  and are they well versed in the action to be taken in the event of a fire. Then you also need to assess the use of emergency lights, these need to cover escape routes inside and out of premises. In order to carry out the above the risk assessor should have a thorough understanding of BS5306, BS5839, BS ISO 23601:2009 and BS 5266. These are the British standards that the Fire Reform Order requires you to work to, they cover Fire alarms, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting Escape route drawings and zonal charts. Additional British standards will also be required for other elements of the assessment. So are you sure you want to carry out your own risk assessment?

So who should carry out the risk assessment?

I am a firm believer in using a specialist, but be careful. We strongly recommend that a risk assessor should be independent, he should have no financial ties to fire alarm/extinguisher companies, why? Well some companies pay staff commission and target the staff to generate new sales or upgrades, in situations like this you have to ask the question as if you really need all the work you are being told you need or are they trying to meet the set targets. Not all companies are the same, also some independent assessors are not up to the task so how do you choose? The only way you can be sure to get a good assessor is to check the previous jobs, if you ask for contacts from previous companies then you can call and find out how they did. a recommendation from someone you know is normally a good method of finding a risk assessor. Monarch Fire (UK) Ltd do not do risk assessing but we have a couple of risk assessors that we recommend, this is following feedback from clients who have used them. If we can be of any help fill in our information request and we will get back to you asap.

Do I need a risk assessment?

Yes is the answer, ALL non residential properties and businesses require a risk assessment, if you employ 5 or more staff or you run a place of assembly (this includes village halls) then you need to have a written fire risk assessment. A word of caution here, even if you do not need a written risk assessment your insurance company may actually require it, likewise your risk assessment may not require a fire alarm or extinguishers but the insurance companies may. always check your small print to ensure that in the event you need to claim you are not invalidating the policy. For advice on the insurance element I would strongly recommend Michelle Jennion of A-Plan in Witney Oxfordshire, her knowledge of insurance will help you get the cover you need at very affordable prices. 

This Video is from the Fire Industry Association (FIA) these are a governing body within the industry, the video is a guide to Risk assessments and backs up what we have said in this blog. Click here for video 

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