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  3. Completing a Fire Risk Assessment

If you’re the owner, landlord or occupier of business premises, you are legally obliged to be responsible for fire safety. The rule also applies if you have paying guests or are running any kind of establishment open to the public.


This means that you should carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly. You should also have an emergency procedure in place, and signs to this effect should be displayed in a prominent position. All of your staff must be drilled in the fire safety procedure too.                                                                                                                                                             

However, many people are unclear as to what a fire risk assessment actually constitutes and to complete one. Essentially it is identifying what you need to do to prevent a fire, and keep people safe should one occur. There are five processes as part of a checklist for carrying out the assessment.

 

Identify Risks
Examine the property for anything that could be a potential cause of fire. This includes heat sources, cooking appliances, electrical goods and any open fires you may have in the house. It also includes materials at risk of catching, including curtains, exposed wood and paper.

 

Identify People at Risk
If a fire did break out, who are the people who would be most in danger? This could include people who work or sleep in certain areas where you have identified a risk of fire, or people who may have difficulty moving if a fire does start.

 

Evaluate, Move or Reduce the Risks
If measures can be taken safely to reduce the risks of fire, then these should be carried out at the point of the assessment. This could involve moving work or rest areas, relocating heat sources or implementing fire safety measures such as grills or fire retardation materials. You should also ensure you have the correct blankets and extinguishers located in the right place and that they are in good working order.

 

Record Your Findings and Prepare an Emergency Plan
No matter how many risk assessments are carried out, you still need to make sure everyone is aware of the situation in the building, and the emergency plan for evacuation. The risk assessment should be placed somewhere easily accessible and staff should be signed off once they have studied the emergency plan. Keeping records of your risk assessments is also required by law and for insurance purposes.

 

Review and Update Your Findings
Circumstances change, as do physical properties of buildings and capabilities of the people in them. That is why you need to carry out and update the risk assessment on a regular basis. This way you can keep the plans and records up to date and ensure that people who live, work or visit your premises are safe should the worst happen.


Since the widespread implementation of fire risk assessments, the numbers of people affected by fires in public places has diminished. However, the risks are always present so it pays to be prepared as much as possible.


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