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NEWS - Fire Regulations and Fire Risk Assessment
17 April, 2011

There was a significant change to how fire safety in business, industrial, and commercial property was legislated in 2006. The Regulatory Reform Order replaced over 70 separate components of fire safety legislation and gave responsibility to those who are best placed to address the issues of fire safety (to be known as the responsible person). The responsible person (usually the owner, an employer or occupier of the premises) was given a duty to carry out a fire risk assessment and then instigate appropriate safety measures to ensure that the risk to life by fire is minimised. They were also given responsibility to ensure that the assessment once carried out was regularly reviewed and kept current.

The five main tasks for completing a fire risk assessment are as follows:

  1. Identify the fire hazards. Where could a fire start, how could it start and what could burn.
  2. Who might be at risk? Employees, visitors to the building as well as anyone who maybe particularly vulnerable, e.g. disabled staff, young persons etc.
  3. Evaluate and implement. Think about the things you have found regarding the potential hazards and who may be at risk and go about removing or reducing those risks to protect the premises and the people who use them.
  4. Record, plan and train. Write down the findings and what actions you have taken to prevent or reduce the risks. Make a plan on how to prevent fires and if in the event a fire does start, how you intend to keep people safe. Train any staff for specific roles that may be needed and make sure that ALL staff are clear on the actions they must take if there is a fire.
  5. Review your plan. Regularly review your risk assessment and plan, making any changes that are needed due to staffing changes, new legislation or new equipment or activities. Ensuring that a full record is kept.

The responsible person can carry out the fire risk assessment themselves or with the help of competent persons. The term competent person appears in three articles of the regulations and refers to anyone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to implement the requirements in view to fire fighting and detection, procedures for serious and imminent danger and danger areas, as well as safety assistance.

There are circumstances where you may feel you would benefit from expert advice and there are many places that you can turn too. As well as having companies listed in local directories, you can find health and safety companies online, who can assist you on your assessment or train you how to complete the assessment yourself. If you are unable to locate a company yourself you may be able to contact your insurer for their recommendations.

There is a wide range of safety equipment available for commercial use, from emergency exit signs, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, fire blankets and sprinkler systems to fire doors, fire ladders and escapes. How many of these are needed in your place of work is up to the ‘responsible’ person to decide. Any equipment that is used must be properly maintained and kept in good working order. A failure of equipment could be deemed the responsibility of the ‘responsible’ person unless there is a recorded maintenance contract – in which case the authorities may take action against the contractor.

The regulations also require the Fire and Rescue Authorities to audit business premises in their local area to make sure that there are adequate safety measures in place and that minimum requirements are being met. They also have a duty to provide fire safety advice when requested and act openly to identify risk and where possible allow the responsible person a reasonable timescale to implement any improvements that are suggested.

For more information on the things covered by this article, we recommend contacting your local Fire Authority, your insurance provider or a qualified Health and Safety adviser.

SEE Improvements are fully qualified and insured Health & Safety Advisors who can help with all your questions on Fire Risk Assessments. With offices in Kent and Central London Health & Safety Consultants SEE Improvement Solutions Ltd will provide a free consultation to discuss your Fire Safety requirements. For practical and cost effective Health and Safety in Thurrock contact SEE Improvement Solutions Ltd.

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