As a business owner, you’ve got many priorities. Having an up-to-date Fire Risk Assessment is one of them.
The law changed in 2005. Before that time, the friendly fire officer would come round and tell you what to do, and as long as you followed their advice, you would have been issued with a fire certificate.
Today, the law states that you have to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment and provide the design of a fire alarm that will be compliant with the legal requirements as stipulated in BS 5839-1:2017.
So What Exactly Is a Fire Risk Assessment?
If your premises accommodates 5 or more people, you must have a written record of a Fire Risk Assessment.
British Fire Safety Law dictates that you must have an up-to-date Fire Risk Assessment for your premises. This is an evaluation of your building’s current state, with a report outlining fire risk factors and the provisions already in place to detect and protect both the building and its inhabitants.
It also, essentially, provides a to-do list of things you must implement in order to be safe and legal, with a priority rating next to it of ‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low’. Carrying out these recommendations is as important as having the assessment in the first place. The decision of whether or not you decide to carry out the necessary changes lies with you; however you will want to know at that point that you are effectively taking legal liability.
The word ‘liability’ is something that conjures up an immediate fight or flight response, as no one likes it when it feels as though there’s a finger pointing at them. Albeit, it’s important to remember that if you’ve taken all of the necessary steps and can prove you have, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. I’m assuming that you are the person who is faithfully navigating this jungle of legalities, and with that, let’s talk about the…
How Often Must I Have One?
Ideally, you should have a Fire Risk Assessment on an annual basis. Albeit, what’s important to consider is whether the assessment is up-to-date.
That is, does the assessment evaluate and report the building as it currently stands? The report must mirror the premises, otherwise it’s essentially invalid. Below are 5 typical reasons why you’d need to have a Fire Risk Assessment.
For instance, you might have had a Fire Risk Assessment a few months ago but then soon after you redecorated, whereby structural changes were made to the building. You’d then need another Fire Risk Assessment to evaluate the building in its new condition, as it might mean you need more/less detectors or other fire safety consideration to be addressed.
If you’re planning a large-scale refurbishment, it’s a good idea to have a Fire Risk Assessment before you start the work in addition to having one afterwards. This is because if your project is set to last for a prolonged period, you will want to protect the building and those working within it during this time. It might be that a temporary alarm ought to be fitted or a Hot Works Permit is needed.
2. Change of Ownership
If your property has changed hands then you will need a Fire Risk Assessment, even if the building is structurally the same as when you had your last assessment.
This is because the ‘responsible person’ for the building will have changed as a result of the new ownership, and therefore liability will change should there ever be a fire. It’ll be you that’s asked for the most recent assessment report and asked if you carried out the recommended works, not your predecessor.
3. High-Risk Environments
If your premises is deemed by your insurer to be a ‘high-risk’ environment in relation to fire safety – for instance you might be high-risk if you’re a care home or a factory involved in the production of flammable materials – then you will most likely be required to carry out a risk assessment on an annual basis. If you’re ever unsure, you can always ask your insurer what they expect you to do in order to meet their criteria for legality reasons, and to keep your inhabitants safe.
4. A Fire-Related Incident has Occurred
If a fire-related incident has occurred at your site, it’s likely some of your fire safety equipment might be damaged and need of a replacement. Plus, you may want to investigate the risks that could have been overlooked, to better prepare you for the future. Fires and recovering from a fire costs businesses dearly, so if you’re refurbishing following a fire, you’ll want a Fire Risk Assessment to help you avoid it happening again in future.
5. An Increase in Staff Members
If you’ve had (or are about to have) a noticeable increase in staff members (typically 10-15% and above) then you’ll want a Fire Risk Assessment as you’ll have more people within your jurisdiction to protect. If any of these staff members also have a physical or sensory disability, you will need an assessment to determine if you’re equipped to safely evacuate them and if there are any hazards which affect them.
6. You Need a New Fire Alarm Installed
If you’ve moved to a new premises which doesn’t have a fire alarm, you’ll want to get one installed and the very first thing to do before committing to buying a fire alarm is to have a Fire Risk Assessment. This will tell you the level of fire protection you need, thereby giving your fire alarm designer a basis to work from. If you’re planning on having a system upgrade or like-for-like replacement, and don’t need a brand new installation, then it’s a good opportunity to evaluate your overall fire safety procedures anyway to make sure you’ll still be compliant with British Fire Safety Law.
Need to book a Fire Risk Assessment? Call us on 01277 724 653 today or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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