21 Nov 2022
Fire Risk Assessments: Your Easy Five-Step Checklist
Under the new Fire Safety Act 2021, the ‘Responsible Person(s)’ must ensure that fire risk assessments are carried out on the premises and regularly updated. A fire risk assessment will allow you to identify any potential fire hazards and highlight what steps need to be taken to prevent a fire and protect lives.
With this in mind, what does an FRA (fire risk assessment) entail, and what steps should you follow?
Identify fire hazards
Fire starts when heat (source of ignition) comes into contact with fuel (anything that burns) and oxygen (air). You must keep sources of ignition and fuel apart.
How could a fire start?
Think about heaters, lighting, naked flames, electrical equipment, hot processes such as welding or grinding, cigarettes, matches and anything else that gets very hot or causes sparks.
What could burn?
Packaging, rubbish and furniture could all burn just as the more obvious fuels such as petrol, paint, varnish and white spirit. Also, remember wood, paper, plastic, rubber and foam. Do the walls and ceilings have hardboard, chipboard or polystyrene? Be sure to check outside too.
- Found anything that could start a fire?
- Found anything that could burn?
Once you have surveyed the premises for potential hazards, it’s time to consider who could be at risk.
People at risk
Everyone is at risk if there is a fire. However, some people will be at greater risk than others. This may involve employees whose roles are more high-risk than others. For example, anyone who works with highly flammable materials or uses specific electrical equipment, works at night or in hazardous locations.
It may also include those with disabilities and mobility issues who will need extra assistance during an evacuation. Children and the elderly are also especially vulnerable.
- Identified who could be at risk?
- Identified who could be especially at risk?
Now you’ve identified all the fire hazards and understand who’s at greater risk during a fire; it’s time to take action.
Evaluate, and act
First, think about what you have found in steps 1 and 2. What are the risks of a fire starting, and what are the risks to people in the building and nearby?
- Assessed the risks of fire in your workplace?
- Assessed the risks to staff and visitors?
Remove and reduce risk:
How can you avoid accidental fires? Could a source of heat or sparks fall, be knocked or be pushed into something that could burn? Could that happen the other way around?
- Kept any source of fuel and heat/sparks apart? If someone wanted to start a fire deliberately, is there anything around that they could use?
- Removed or secured any fuel an arsonist could use?
- Protected your premises from accidental fire or arson?
Take action to protect your premises and people from fire. There’s a vast range of fire safety equipment available, and we always recommend that you work with a fire safety expert as they will be able to ensure your equipment is installed correctly as well as assist with your action plan.
Fire safety equipment can include items such as:
Some points to think about when creating your plan:
- Will you know if there is a fire?
- Do you have a plan to warn others?
- Who will make sure everyone gets out?
- Who will call the fire service?
- Could you put out a small fire quickly and stop it from spreading?
- Have you planned escape routes?
- Have you ensured people can safely find their way out, even at night if necessary?
- Does all your safety equipment work?
- Will people know what to do and how to use the equipment?
Record, plan and train
Keep a record of any fire hazards and what you have done to remove or reduce them.
- Made a record of what you have found and the action you have taken?
You must have a clear plan of how to prevent fire and how you will keep people safe if a fire breaks out. The previous steps that you have taken will inform this plan.
- Planned what everyone will do if there is a fire?
- Discussed the plan with all staff?
Training is a crucial part of your fire risk assessment. Once you have a concrete safety plan, you should implement sufficient training, so your staff know how to act in a fire emergency.
Your training programme will involve the following:
- Showing people how to use equipment such as fire extinguishers.
- Running a fire emergency drill.
- Ensuring everyone knows where emergency exits are and assigning roles such as Fire Marshals.
- Informed and trained people?
- Nominated and trained staff to put your fire prevention measures in place?
- Made sure everyone can fulfil their role?
- Informed temporary staff?
- Consulted others who share a building with you and included them in your plan?
You should review your FRA regularly to update any changes and maintain compliance.
Things to consider:
- Have you made any changes to the building inside or out?
- Had a fire or near miss?
- Changed work practices?
- Begun to store chemicals or dangerous substances?
- Significantly changed your stock or stock levels?
- Have you planned your next fire drill?
If you’re still unsure how to carry out your fire risk assessments or would like assistance, speaking to a fire protection expert such as Harmony is the best course. You can find out more about our FRA services here, or alternatively, you can get in touch today.