The Importance of a Fire Risk Assessment
A fire risk assessment is a mandatory undertaking that must be carried out in all places of work and in areas that are accessible to the general public.
A fire risk assessment helps you identify all the fire hazards and risks in your premises. You can then decide whether any risks identified are acceptable or whether you need to do something to reduce or control them.
A risk assessment should be carried out by someone who has had sufficient training, and has good experience or knowledge of fire safety.
For fire to occur there must be a source of ignition, fuel and oxygen. If all three are present and in close proximity, then the fire risk could increase as a result.
In the average premises fire hazards will fall into the first two categories, while the oxygen will be present in the air in the surrounding space. Occasionally oxygen can be found in chemical form (oxidising agents) or as a gas in cylinders or piped systems.
If there is a fire, the greatest danger is the spread of the fire, heat and smoke through the premises. If this happens, the main risk to people is from the smoke and products of combustion, which can very quickly incapacitate those escaping.
If a premises does not have adequate means of escape or if a fire can grow to an appreciable size before it is noticed, then people may become trapped or overcome by heat and smoke before they can evacuate.
If your premises are situated in a relatively modern building, it should already incorporate important control measures, e.g. fire escape staircases, fire lobbies, fire doors, emergency lighting etc.
Many of these measures will also be found in older buildings. If your building was issued with a fire certificate under the Fire Precautions Act, details of existing control measures will be detailed in that document.
It is important to remember that fire risk assessment is a continuous process and as such must be monitored and audited. New and existing control measures should be maintained to make sure they are still working effectively.
However, if you introduce changes into your premises your original risk assessment may not address any new hazards or risk arising from them. For this reason it is also important to review and revise your assessment regularly.
This doesn’t mean it is necessary to amend your assessment for every trivial change that occurs, but the impact of any significant change should be considered.
For more information visit the Chapter Three Consulting website at www.c3c.co.uk or call us on 0300 004 0020