X Close Icon

What’s involved in a Fire Risk Assessment and who is responsible?

17th October 2023

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

As a business or building owner, you have a legal responsibility to carry out a fire risk assessment, but what exactly does this entail?  Well, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 the requirement is for a competent person to:

  • Carry out an assessment of the risk of fire.
  • Ensure there are means for the early detection of fire.
  • Ensure there are adequate means of escape.
  • Provide suitable fire fighting equipment and keep it maintained and readily accessible.

Fire risk assessment amounts to much more than simply a ‘paper exercise’ and must relate to tangible action.  The employer and/or property owner needs to be able to demonstrate they have adopted a systematic and controlled approach in identifying, eliminating, reducing or controlling fire risk.

If needs be, improvement in the premises and fire precautions must be implemented in order to be considered ‘suitable and sufficient’.

There may be requirements for further specialist training or the installation of sprinklers or fire suppression systems.


What is a Competent Person?

 The legislation requires the fire risk assessment to be undertaken by a ‘competent person’.  In this instance, the definition of a competent person is someone regarded as having sufficient training and experience or knowledge, and other qualities, to enable him or her to properly undertake the assessment.


What are the steps involved in a Fire Risk Assessment?

A comprehensive fire risk assessment should include the following steps:

Identify the fire hazards

Identification of hazards may include sources of ignition, combustible materials that would assist in any fire spread, and hazards associated with processes.  You must also consider building construction (required under Fire Safety Act 2021), which includes the structure and fabric (post Grenfell).

Identify the location of people at significant risk

It is important to identify whether employees, visitors or members of public might be in danger in the event of a fire, or in escaping from a fire, and to note their location. The assessment should identify parts of premises where people are more at risk and take into account staff or visitors to the premises with health conditions or impairments, people working alone or in remote or isolated areas, those unfamiliar with the layout of the building, elderly people, or anybody unable to react quickly.

Evaluate the risks

Evaluate the risks arising from the hazards to decide if existing fire precautions are adequate and whether improvements are required to remove the hazard or control the risk. As part of the evaluation, it is important to look at any existing fire safety measures in terms of:

  • Control of ignition and fuel sources.
  • Fire detection and fire warning systems.
  • Means of escape.
  • Means of fighting fire.
  • Maintenance and testing of firefighting and detection systems.
  • Fire safety training of employees

Record findings and action taken

If there are 5 or more employees, the significant findings of the fire risk assessment must be recorded. Action taken as a result of the assessment should also be recorded.

Review assessments

A fire risk assessment should be considered to be an ongoing process. It is good practice to undertake an annual review to take into account any changes in the premises, work processes, machinery or substances used in addition to changes in number of people likely to be present.


How can COHIBL help?

 At COHIBL we are proud to have a dedicated Risk Management expert, Steve Haines (FPA Member NEBOSH Cert) with over 35 years of experience as a surveyor and risk management specialist.  If you would like to speak to Steve about a quotation for his fire risk assessment consultancy services, he would be delighted to talk you through what support your business would benefit from. His service includes an initial fire risk assessment and, if desired, ongoing support, assistance and procurement of fire precautions equipment, services and training.

To comply with Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 there are duties imposed on the responsible person of residential property and our Risk Manager can assist with assessments, training and procurement services of any necessary fire precautions equipment.

Our Risk Manager will also represent you in discussions with the area fire brigade and other statutory authority such as HSE.

To contact Steve about Fire Risk Assessment, or any of the other Risk Management services we offer

please click here