Fire prevention in 5: the different steps to a Fire Risk Assessment
Many businesses will recognise the harassed air of the “responsible person” in their office or site. It’s little wonder that they are so, as this person, whether they’re the business owner or a dedicated member of staff, have a solemn obligation in keeping the premise fire-risk free.
One of these responsibilities is to have a risk assessment in place, and for good reason. There has been a downward trend in the number of fire-related fatalities in the UK, and preventative measures certainly have a part to play in this encouraging decrease.
But with 260 fire-related fatalities on record in 2016-17*, there’s work to be done, and putting in place a fire assessment is the best place to start.
Fire assessment breakdown
Your fire risk assessment will be different if you’re based in an office to, say, a manufacturing plant, but the foundations are built on the same process:
- Identify all fire hazards
Three things are needed to make a fire: fuel, oxygen and ignition. The first thing you should do is make a note of all sources which could provide these elements. These could include overstocked products (fuel), and overwhelmed extension cables (ignition).
- Identify who is at risk
Next, you should identify who would be most at risk if a fire was to occur. For example, people working in rooms with no fire escapes, elderly people, or people working near to fire hazards, such as in a busy kitchen.
- Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect
Identifying potential hazards will enable you to determine the level of fire risk within your premises. Now you should attempt to remove and reduce potential hazards and take steps to protect employees from fire. For instance, you could replace flammable items with less flammable ones and enforce a safe-smoking policy. This step is where your fire extinguishers, alarm system, and access to fire escapes will come into play.
- Record, plan and train
Write out the assessment so you can review it and use it to educate staff on your company’s fire procedures. Record potential risks identified in steps 1 and 2, and note what preventative measures you have taken to limit the chance of fire.
Your assessment will inform your emergency plan, which should include a step-by-step guide for staff on what to do in the event of a fire.
Allow room for your fire assessment to evolve just as your business changes and grows, and remember to train new staff on the company’s fire safety procedure.