In simple terms yes, there is no reason why you cannot complete your own fire safety risk assessment.
However, there are two key aspects of the legislation that you need to make sure that you cover, which are: The Fire Safety Risk Assessment must be completed by a “Competent Person”. The responsible person must possess the knowledge, experience and training in order to be able to recognise the fire risks in their workplace, and how to remove, reduce or mitigate them.
A fire risk assessment should help you identify all the fire hazards and risks in your premises.
You will then be able to decide whether the risks identified are acceptable or whether you need to take steps to reduce or control them.
The Fire Safety Risk Assessment must also be “Suitable and Sufficient”. That means that it must take into considerations all of the fire safety hazards, people at risk, and arrangements in place. The risk assessment needs to be documented clearly and key aspects of your fire safety arrangements considered. Therefore any risk assessment that relates to a simple one word answer i.e. YES or NO, without any further considerations is unlikely to be either “Suitable or Sufficient”.
5 key steps you must follow, and include in your fire risk assessment:
Step 1 – Fire hazards
The initial step of the fire risk assessment is to identify any fire hazards in your premises. This will include looking at how a fire could start, such as heaters, naked flames, electrical equipment or any processes the business carries out that may increase the risk of a fire. You should also consider what could burn, from waste, to cardboard, to any flammable stock you may hold.
Step 2 – People at risk
Identify who is at risk, which essentially will be everyone, but some people may have a greater exposure due to their role, where they work or even when they work. You should consider the risk to visitors who are unfamiliar with the premises, especially children, the elderly or disabled people.
Step 3 – Evaluate, and act
Now you have completed steps 1 and 2 it is important to evaluate the risks you have identified and take action to reduce, remove or manage those risks.
Step 4 – Record, plan and train
As mentioned above, if you have 5 or more members of staff or have a licence you must keep a written record of the assessment, including the risks you have identified and what has been done to reduce the risk. There should then be a plan to keep people safe in the event of a fire, and this should be discussed with all members of staff, so they know what to do, and who is responsible for what.
Step 5 – Review
You should review your fire assessment on a regular basis; over time the risks may change.
What Makes Someone Competent at a Fire Risk Assessment?
The meaning of the term ‘competent person’ can be vague there is no specific definition. The lack of definition is due to the varying levels of competency and experience required to carry out a fire risk assessment is dependent on different businesses and premises. Take a construction site for example, the level of experience and competency required for an assessor to carry out a fire risk assessment is drastically different to the requirements to be able to carry one out in a small communal building. Here are some points you can look for when finding a competent person for completing fire risk assessments:
- Are they on a professional register?
- Do they have experience undertaking Fire Risk Assessments for your kind of business and premises?
- Do they have sufficient and up-to-date Fire Safety Training?
What about if I want a professional risk assessor?
If you don’t have the time or expertise to carry out the fire risk assessment yourself, hiring a professional risk assessor is essential.
Most experienced and qualified auditors will carry out a fire risk assessment report for a fixed price. The cost will vary depending on the size of the business premises.
When engaging a fire risk assessment service, be sure to check they carry professional indemnity insurance.
Our in-house, highly experienced Fire Risk Assessor Sarah carries out the Fire Risk Assessments for all our clients.
So to recap, to be a competent fire risk assessor, a person needs to know about risk assessment methodology, ignition, fire development, human behaviour and fire safety systems.
Of course, the depth of knowledge which a person would need in these areas depends completely on what is being risk assessed. Almost anyone would be competent to carry out a fire risk assessment of a small fishmongers, but you would probably need letters after your name to be deemed competent to assess a large shopping complex.
If you feel you are deficient in the areas outlined, you need training before carrying out the assessment or to appoint someone who is already competent to do it for you.
So get in touch today and find out how we can help.
As experts in Fire Risk Assessments, we are always happy to answer any questions you may have and talk through the needs of your business.
Call us on 01933 677125 or fill in the quick online form to discuss your Fire Safety needs today!