Fire risk assessing services for your company

Fire risk assessments

As the responsible person you must carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of the premises. This will identify what you need to do to prevent fire and keep people safe.
You must keep a written record of your fire risk assessment if your business has 5 or more people.

When these Regulations came into force there is now a requirement for all employers to:
• Carry out a fire risk assessment of the workplace taking into consideration all employees and all other people who may be affected by a fire in the workplace, and to make adequate provision for any disabled people with special needs who use or may be present in the premises;
• Identify the significant findings of the risk assessment and the details of anyone who might be especially at risk in case of fire. If more than five people are employed or the premises are licensed it is a requirement that these significant findings are recorded; (However, the best evidence of compliance as well as best practice that a written record is produced on all occasions to assist with the process of ongoing reviews)
• Provide and maintain such fire precautions as are necessary to safeguard those who use the workplace; and
• Provide information, instruction, and training to employees about the fire precautions in the workplace

By 'responsible person', the RRFSO means anyone who has any degree of control over the premises, which can include, inter alia, the employer, owner, occupier, or managing agent.

What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a process of identifying hazards, evaluating risks, and controlling or eliminating those hazards during daily tasks and activities.
This also involves applying control measures to make sure your people and any visitors to your site are safe. Ultimately, you have to decide what might cause harm to people and take reasonable steps to prevent that harm.
If you employ over five people, you must keep a written record of all of your assessments. If you don’t? You could face a fine or even prosecution.

We should all be aware that Fire Risk Assessments are legally required but did you know that there are different types of risk assessment that can be carried in blocks of flats?
The current guidance endorsed by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) ‘Fire Safety in Purpose Built Blocks of Flats’, issued by the Local Government Association in 2012, identifies 4 types of Fire Risk Assessments; some of which are destructive.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) states that a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) is required in almost all buildings, however, does not go into specific detail about how intrusive or destructive this should be.

Type 1

Type 1 is the most common type of Fire Risk Assessment and is usually sufficient for most purpose-built blocks of flats and conversions. Type 1 is a non-destructive assessment of the common parts of the building, not the private dwellings. In general, access to these occupied areas (such as flats) is not expected or required unless there is reason to believe that there may be significant health and safety issues inside. The only exception is where you may have arranged to view the tenant’s front doors as part of the assessment. In some occurrences, the action plan of Type 1 may recommend one of the other types be carried out. Recommendations of other types of FRAs should be backed up with a clear justification as to why a more intrusive inspection is required.

Type 2

Type 2 is similar to type 1 in the sense that it only includes the common parts of the building. However, it involves an element of destructive sampling for which a contractor will normally be required. A Type 2 FRA may be suggested following a Type 1, however, should not be recommended as standard procedure. A Type 2 Fire Risk Assessment is usually a rarity, carried out only if there is good reason to believe there are serious structural flaws that need further investigation due to the risk that this could lead to breaches in compartmentation and the spread of fire throughout the building.

Type 3

Type 3 FRAs go beyond the requirements of the law by considering the flats as well as the common parts. Areas such as means of escape, compartmentation between flats, and means of fire detection are considered in all areas including the flats. The Type 3 FRA, like the type 1, is non-destructive and is usually considered necessary if it is thought there may be a fire risk inside of the flats. Arranging a Type 3 FRA can be difficult in leaseholder flats and are more easily conducted in vacated flats or where the flat is rented rather under leasehold ownership.

Type 4

Type 4 FRAs, like Type 2, include a destructive assessment, however in this case of both the common parts of the building and the flats. Type 4 FRAs are obviously more complicated than the other types of assessments.
As with the Type 3 assessment, access to flats can be difficult and the destructive nature of the assessment will involve a contractor to open up and repair damage after the inspection.

Are Type 2 or 4 Fire Risk Assessments Needed?

You have probably had a Type 1 FRA conducted and in the vast majority of cases this is likely to be suitable and sufficient in determining the fire risk and implementing the necessary fire precautions. There is, however, the ongoing debate surrounding Type 4 FRAs and where they may be necessary.
Generally, Type 4 FRAs are only necessary for a very limited range of circumstances and as Type 2, should not be routinely recommended unless there is strong justification following a Type 1 or 3 FRA. The general principle is that a Type 4 FRA should only be suggested if there is reason to believe there are serious defects in both the common parts or inside the flats; such as inadequate compartmentation or poor fire stopping which cannot be determined adequately during the Type 1 or 3 FRA. Another circumstance in which a Type 4 Fire Risk Assessment may be recommended is if a new landlord has acquired a block of flats for which the history of construction work is suspicious.
Concerns may be originally raised in the type 1 FRA about the compartmentation, especially in areas that cannot be easily accessed such as ceilings, under floorboards, roof voids, risers, service cupboards, or boiler rooms. In circumstances such as these, there may be a reason to believe there is a high risk of fire spread in both the private and common areas of the property and therefore a more destructive assessment may be needed.
The outcome of an intrusive and destructive FRA may be to recommend further building works to improve compartmentation, additional fire stopping measures, or improvements to protect the means of escape from smoke or fire. In some circumstances additional building works to improve fire compartmentation will not be practicable either in the short or long term. In these cases, the evacuation strategy may need to change from the usual ‘stay-put’ policy recommended for purpose-built blocks, to one of simultaneous evacuation with enhanced fire detection and alarm systems being installed.

Refurbishment and Demolition Surveys

If the Duty Holder decides that they have the appetite to undertake one of these FRA’s, then this is where it will start to get slightly more complicated, the first thing you must establish if the building is Pre 2000 if it is then you must carry out a Refurbishment and Demolition (R&D) Asbestos Survey.
• An R&D survey (previously known as a type 3 Asbestos Survey) is required when materials are being disturbed as part of a refurbishment, demolition project (or other types of construction work any intrusive works).
• This type of survey is fully intrusive and the building or areas which are being surveyed will usually need to be vacated of any occupants and their belongings so an extensive survey and samples can be taken.
• Next thing is to determine whether this FRA falls under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 15) if there are more than two (2) contractors working on the Type 2 Type 4 FRA then under Regulation 5 of the CDM 15 Regs, a Principal Contractor and a Principal Designer must be appointed in writing by the Client.
• Type 2 and Type 4 FRA’s will almost certainly fall under CDM 15 Regs, as there will be an FRA Assessor and Asbestos Surveyor which triggers the appointments.

Bespoke Fire risk assessments

Our team of passionate and dedicated professional provide a risk assessment and propose solutions to the following:
• Fire hazards, their elimination, and control
• Smoking arrangements
• Risk and prevention of arson
• Portable and fixed heating installations
• Lightning protection systems
• Hazardous materials
• Means of warning and escape
• Emergency lighting
• Fire safety signage
• Firefighting systems
• Fire safety management procedures and staff training