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13th August 2015

Fire risk assessments explained

Fire risk assessment

Fire risk assessments are undertaken to identify the potential fire hazards and determine what control are to be put in place to prevent, control and manage a potential fire.

Legal duties and responsibilities

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places duties on the responsible person within a workplace to undertake a fire risk assessment.

Section 9 (1) of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires that the responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the fire risks to which people are exposed.

In Section 11 (2) the responsible person must record the arrangements where:

  1. He employs five or more employees;
  2. A licence under an enactment is in force in relation to the premises; or
  3. An alterations notice requiring a record to be made of those arrangements is in force in relation to the premises.
    [Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005]

Choosing a competent fire risk assessor

The starting point is to ensure that the person developing and recording the fire risk assessment is competent to do so which means they have adequate experience, knowledge and training in carrying out fire risk assessments.

Contents of a fire risk assessment

The contents of a fire risk assessment will reflect the work environment and the type of work activity within the building.

The following areas should be covered in a fire risk assessment:

  • A map showing the layout of the interior part of the building including the doors and windows
  • Details of the building including the materials of the building
  • The size of the building – is it a single or multiple storey building
  • The occupancy of the building which covers the times and days when the building is used and when it is empty. This includes the estimated number of people expected to be in the building during all shifts
  • The use of the different areas in the building which should cover areas such as offices, sleeping areas, specific areas (kitchen, storage)
  • Staff details covering number and whether there are any fire safety factors to consider such as disabilities or medical condition, sensory limitations, mobility restrictions
  • Who is affected by a fire such as staff, visitors, vulnerable persons, young persons, pregnant ladies
  • The fire safety systems already in place
  • The firefighting equipment including the number, type and location of fire extinguishers
  • The maintenance of firefighting equipment
  • Means of Escape covering the escape routes which should be clearly identified
  • The fire safety signage displayed at different locations in the building such as no smoking signs, fire instruction, fire escape route directional signs
  • Other fire systems used in the building such as sprinklers
  • The degree of housekeeping and monitoring of fire escape routes to ensure clear routes
  • The degree of potential electrical hazards and the management of this area
  • The storage of Hazardous Substances with flammable properties
  • The emergency routes and exits and checking they are adequate and suitable
  • Details of how the alarm is raised
  • The type of fire detection and warning systems within the premises
  • The details of the emergency fire evacuation plan
  • Details of fire awareness instruction, information and training given to staff
  • The type of fire alarm used on the premises and the testing of the fire alarm
  • The recorded fire action taken in an evacuation
  • The Significant Findings found by the fire risk assessor
  • The actions required to close any gaps within the significant findings

Review and update your fire risk assessment

The fire risk assessment must be reviewed and updated at planned intervals and where there are significant changes within the workplace premises.

QCS Heath & Safety policies

QCS have guidance and policies to support your service in meeting the requirements of health and safety.

Sally Beck RGN, BSc (Hons), MSc, CMIOSH – QCS Expert Health and Safety Contributor

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