These are all separate functions carried out by different specialists.
Fire Risk Assessment is a risk assessment of an operational premises and is a completely separate discipline and requires a very specialist skill-set.
It requires a genuine, impartial, open minded approach and should never be used to justify retrospectively decisions already made. However, when relevant, a Fire Risk Assessor could refer to or question aspects of these other separate functions as part of their duties.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 [FSO] came into force in England & Wales in October 2006 and consolidated existing fire safety legislation. Equivalent regulations were introduced in Scotland and Norther Ireland.
The FSO provides a risk based approach to fire safety and to support the FSO, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published a suite guides for different types of premises including:
An additional publication –Means of Escape for Disabled People was issued with the intention that this is read alongside the other risk assessment guides.
Further guidance specifically for the Hospitality industry – for small premises with paying guests such as B&Bs and self-catering accommodation
In 2008 guidance on fire safety for both public and private sector landlords was issued for certain types of existing houses
In 2012 following the Lakanal fire further guidance was produced by the Local Government Association on Guidance in Fire Safety for Purpose-Built blocks of flats
The following issues should not be considered separately but collectively as a joined-up approach to fire safety:
These guides are considered by the fire safety industry to be the ‘bench mark’ guides for the FSO. It should be noted that these are not statutory documents but should be used to provide recommendations and guidance only.
It should assess the adequacy of existing fire precautions and in some instances the need for additional fire precautions which should be set out in an action plan. The action plan should prescribe measures to be taken to reduce the risk of Fire.
Fire hazards are considered and the means to eliminate or these control hazards. These are Fire prevention measures. From the outset all endeavours are to eliminate or reduce the hazards but it is very rare to be able to discount these down to zero.
We should then move on and look at Fire protection measures including the means of escape, measures that assist escape, fire warning systems and fire-fighting equipment.
The quality of the Fire Safety Management system will govern risk to people. It is said that failures of the management system contribute more to multiple-fatality fires than any other contributory factor. Matters considered under this system would include Fire Safety Strategy, Fire procedures, Staff Training, drills, testing, maintenance of fire-fighting equipment, inspecting means of escape etc.
Code of practice PAS79:2012 Fire Risk Assessment – guidance and a recommended methodology, is published by the British Standards Institute and provides a methodology for providing a fire risk assessment. It aims specifically to ensure all information and findings are recorded. It relates to premises and those parts of premises where a fire risk assessment is required by legislation.
It was produced C.S.Todd & Associates Ltd in consultation with a number of industry recognised organizations:
As well as the input and recognition of all the relevant fire safety bodies If you follow the approach in PAS 79 you can be sure that your fire risk assessment will be following a recognised methodology with a report covering all relevant aspects of fire safety.
It also considers the operation of premises and the impact that the activities and occupants have on Fire Safety. It informs you whether your existing fire precautions are adequate, and if not will recommend an action plan that sets out practicable measures to reduce the risk
PAS 79 at Section 3.42 defines a fire risk assessment as a
process of identifying fire hazards and evaluating the risks to people arising from them, taking into account the adequacy of existing fire precautions, and deciding whether or not the fire risk is acceptable without further precautions.
A Fire Risk Assessment should never be a desk top exercise – the Fire Risk Assessor MUST VISIT and ASSESS the operational premises.
In our experience several issues come out again and again including:
Two misconceptions which commonly arise include:
Building Control didn’t pick this up so we don’t need to take this into account.
At times serious issues relating to Fire Risk are not picked up by Building control. This can range from missed fire sealing, emergency lights, fire-fighting equipment, compartmentation and many other issues. It’s not uncommon for our qualified fire Risk Assessors to identify issues which have simply been missed in error through a lack of detailed knowledge of fire risk, or structural changes made after the building control inspection.
We’ve completed our Fire Risk Assessment so now we are legally compliant
Some clients assume that once they have completed a fire risk assessment that is where their legal obligation ends. If there is a serious health & safety incident and recommendations have been ignored, very often a prosecution will follow. Bearing in mind the enhanced fines and prison sentences introduced by the Sentencing Council in 2015, the impact could be severe both personally and corporately. Recommendations are there to be acted upon.
Competency Criteria for Fire Risk Assessors was set out in the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council Document Version 1 published 21.12.2011. This considers the balance of training, experience, knowledge and other qualities Fire Risk Assessors require to implement their duties. Clearly the competence required to Fire Risk Assess a simple premises differs significantly from that required for a complex premises.
The FSO requires the risk assessment to be “suitable and sufficient” and carried out by the “responsible person” on behalf of the “dutyholder”.
It is important to note that ultimately the responsibility for the adequacy of the Fire Risk Assessment sits with the ‘duty-holder’, regardless of whether it has been carried out by a specialist third party assessor.
There is currently no official ISO standard for Fire Risk Assessments, however we are also actively currently reviewing the impact of PAS 7:2013 and its relation to the fire risk management system relative to the Fire Risk Assessment.
ASAP Comply’s Fire Risk Assessment are always carried out to comply with PAS 79:2012. We offer a wide variety of Fire Risk Assessors with skill sets aligning with every type of premises.
Please contact us if you need any further information or advice.
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