Fire risk assessment is an organised look at what, in your work activities and workplace, could cause harm to people from fire. It will help determine the chances of a fire occurring and the dangers from fire that the workplace poses for the people who use it.
Its purpose is to determine whether existing fire precautions are adequate and reasonable relative to the overall risks presented or if it requires reduction via control measures.
The phrase ‘Fire Risk’ can be defined as the Likelihood of a fire occurring multiplied by the Severity of the fire i.e. the ‘harm potential’ and consequences in terms of loss of life, fire spread, damage etc
The harm potential from a fire hazard depends on the potential for development of a fire originating from the hazard and then the potential consequences in terms of life and/or property loss.
Determining the potential for harm requires the assessor to make a judgement on the possible outcome of the hazard.
The potential for ignition is the first consideration, but thought must also be given to the number of times the situation could occur and the factors that could cause it to occur, e.g. the competence of people involved, environmental conditions and the condition of equipment.
The potential for development will be affected by a number of factors not least the length of time the fire could burn before it is detected and how long before the fire threatens the means of escape.
Factors such as building construction (combustible materials and/or lack of compartmentation) and contents (combustible and/or flammable materials which will provide fuel) will also impact on this.
A fire risk assessment must fulfill a number of criteria as follows:
The risk assessment process consists of five steps.
The five steps are described in more detail below, however you should note that this is a basic outline and the responsible person must ensure they refer to the detailed fire risk assessment procedures contained within the premises specific guides produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
You need to identify
You must also consider structural features such as ducts and flues, unstopped holes cut into fire walls, large areas of combustible materials,open roof spaces; excessively long escape routes etc.
You will need to identify those people who may be especially at risk such as:
This is done as follows:
Taking into account the fire prevention measures observed at the time of this risk assessment, it is considered that the hazard from fire (probability of ignition) at this building is:
Definition of terms
Hardly any risk from fire, few combustible materials, no highly flammable substances, and virtually no sources of heat.
There are quantities of combustible materials and sources of heat but a fire would remain confined or spread slowly.
A serious risk to life from fire, substantial quantities of combustible materials, highly flammable substances, or likelihood of the rapid spread of fire, heat or smoke.
Taking into account the nature of the building and the occupants, as well as the fire protection and procedural arrangements observed at the time of this risk assessment, it is considered that the consequences for life safety in the event of fire would be:
Definition of terms:
NB! When deciding the level of harm you must consider occupants sleeping on the premises
Using the results from (1) and (2) above use the table below to determine the risk rating.
|Potential consequences if a fire was to occur Vs Risk of a fire occurring||Slight harm||Moderate harm||Extreme harm|
|Low||Trivial risk||Tolerable risk||Moderate risk|
|Medium||Tolerable risk||Moderate risk||Substantial risk|
|High||Moderate risk||Substantial risk||Intolerable risk|
Accordingly, it is considered that the risk to life from fire at this building is:
Using the risk rating from (3) use the table below to determine the action level and timescale.
|Risk Level||Action required and timescale|
|Trivial||No action is required and no detailed records need be kept, however the situation should be monitored regularly.|
|Tolerable||No major additional controls required, however the situation requires ongoing monitoring and there may be a need for consideration of improvements that involve minor or limited cost.|
|Moderate||It is essential that efforts be made to reduce the risk. Risk reduction measures should be implemented within a defined time period and ongoing monitoring is required.NOTE!! Where moderate risk is associated with consequences that constitute extreme harm, further assessment may be required to establish more precisely the likelihood of harm as a basis for determining the priority for improved control measures.|
|Substantial||Considerable resources may have to be allocated to reduce the risk. If the building is unoccupied, it should not be occupied until the risk has been reduced. If the building is occupied, urgent action should be taken.|
|Intolerable||Building (or relevant area) should not be occupied until the risk is reduced.|
If the existing fire safety measures are assessed as inadequate action must be taken to remove or reduce any fire hazards where possible in order to reduce the risks identified. For example:
In this step you must record, plan, instruct, inform and train. You will need to record the fire hazards identified in step 1 and the people at risk identified in step 2. You must also record the action you took under step 3.
This information must be recorded using the corporate fire safety risk assessment form appropriate for your premises. The following are available:
Contact the Safety Section on (020) 8545 3384 for advice if you are carrying out a fire risk assessment for premises that do not fall under any of the above. You will also need to make an emergency plan, tailored to your premises.
It should include the action that you need to take in a fire in your premises or any premises nearby.
Please see section below for details on emergency plans.
You will need to give employees and others enough information, instruction and training about fire risks in the premises and the fire safety procedures to mitigate those risks. Some, such as fire marshals, will require more thorough training.
You must make sure the fire-risk assessment is up to date and valid. You will need to re-examine your fire-risk assessment if you suspect it is no longer valid, such as after a near miss and every time there is a significant change to the level of risk in your premises. Other factors affecting the frequency of review may include:
As with any assessment process there are common pitfalls to be avoided includes: