The 5 Steps of a Fire Safety Risk Assessment
Fire safety is often overlooked as a risk, but any property that contains combustible materials must be treated with care. A fire safety risk assessment will help you identify any potential hazards in your business and take steps to reduce the risk of an outbreak.
By law, you should carry out a fire safety risk assessment at least every 12 months. However, we recommend this to be carried out more often if there have been changes in your property or its usage. The most important factor when carrying out a fire safety risk assessment is to remember that it’s not just about checking that the systems are working correctly, it’s also about identifying any defects or issues that could lead to a problem in the future. If you think that your business needs a fire safety risk assessment, please get in touch with us today. We’ll be able to talk through the various options available and provide advice on how best to proceed.
- Identify the fire hazards.
- Identify the people at risk.
- Evaluate the risks and assess the controls in place.
- Record your findings and implement any necessary changes.
- Review the assessment regularly.
1. Identify The Fire Hazards
Identifying fire hazards is the first step in a fire safety risk assessment. A fire hazard can be any condition that increases the likelihood of a fire starting or spreading. Generally, this focuses on ignition sources like electrical outlets, heaters, switches etc. In addition to ignition sources, we must note any fuel sources including paper products, gasoline, and cloths for example. Finally, oxygen supply from doors and windows as when this is combined with heat production it is likely to cause an uncontrollable fire. Identifying these hazards allows you to identify steps for eliminating them in your workplace.
It is impossible to remove all the heat, fuel and oxygen in a workplace. However, we can drastically reduce the chances of a fire. The fire triangle needs all three elements to exist. By ensuring heat is kept separate from combustibles, where appropriate, we can reduce the risk of a fire.
Sources of FUEL
There are many sources of fuel that can be present in a building. It’s important to know what type of fuel is present in your business premises as this will help you identify where any hazards may be lurking. If you don’t already have a fire safety risk assessment in place, it’s worth starting one now so that you can identify any problems or issues before they become too severe.
Waste products, cloth, textiles, wood, paper, flammable liquids, paints, varnishes, white spirit and flammable gases.
Sources of HEAT
Electrical equipment: electric blankets, plug sockets and extension leads all provide an easy way for a fire to start. You should ensure that these items are kept away from curtains and other flammable materials, and are never left unattended when in use.
Gas appliances: gas fires can be caused by gas hobs and ovens not being used properly (e.g. leaving them on after cooking is finished). Or cigarette butts coming into contact with hot ashes in ashtrays or bins.
Candles: candles need careful handling due to their propensity towards sparking up if knocked over. They should only ever be used on high surfaces such as tables near windows where they’ll not spill onto carpets or other flammable materials if knocked over.
Sources of OXYGEN
Natural air flow, mechanical air conditioning, ventilation, open windows and doors.
2. Identify People At Risk
Once you have compiled your list of fire hazards, the second step in any fire safety risk assessment is to identify the people who are at risk from fires.
The people who are at risk of being affected by a fire should be identified. This will include children, the elderly and people with disabilities. It is important to consider their needs during an emergency situation and how they may require assistance if there were a fire.
- People at RISK:
Employees, contractors, visitors and the public. Higher risks include anyone asleep on the premises, those unfamiliar with the layout, the disabled, the elderly and the people unfamiliar with the premises.
Once these people have been identified as ‘At Risk’ you will need to make sure that they have clear information regarding evacuation during the event of a fire. In addition, it is vital to plan out various methods by which someone vulnerable can evacuate quickly and safely.
3. Evaluate – Fire Safety Improvements
When you’ve finished the risk assessment process, your next step is to take action. You’ll want to identify and remove or reduce the risks that were identified in your assessment. Use the appropriate equipment and follow the right procedures for each situation to keep yourself and others safe from fire hazards.
Determine the risk of a fire occurring by categorising them into Low, Medium and High risks. Once the risk is determined, pair it with a potential consequence of the fire.
- Low Risk – Hardly any fire risk. Very few combustible materials, no obvious sources of heat and no highly flammable substances.
- Medium Risk – Combustible materials and sources of heat are present, however, these are confined into a space that spreads slowly.
- High Risk – Serious risk to life. Highly flammable substances with rapid spread of fire, heat or smoke.
Pair it with a consequence:
- Slight Harm – The outbreak of a fire is unlikely to result in a serious injury.
- Moderate Harm – The outbreak of fire could result in an injury of one or more injuries, however, unlikely to be fatal.
- Extreme Harm – The outbreak of fire would likely cause serious injury or death.
3. Act – Remove/Lower the Risk
The more you practice this step of a fire risk assessment, the more efficient it will become for you. With enough repetition, conducting a fire risk assessment can become second nature!
You may also want to make use of a checklist or template while conducting your own assessments. These tools can help ensure that all steps have been met before moving on in the process or taking any actions toward mitigating risks identified during an evaluation session.
4. Record, Plan and Train
After you’ve completed the fire risk assessment, it’s important to make sure you record your findings and implement them. It is also vital that you are consistent in your implementation. This is so that no problems arise from not following through with the recommendations made during the assessment.
Record details of the fire hazards you’ve identified and the preventative measures you’ve put in place to remove or reduce fire risks.
- Record the identified fire hazards.
- Record the actions you have taken to reduce the chances of a fire.
- Record the persons who may be at risk.
- Record the actions you have taken to remove those risks.
- Make an emergency plan.
- Provide training.
You should review your assessment and update it if necessary.
Risk assessments should be reviewed at regular intervals e.g. annually, or every time there is a change in the building’s use, occupancy or physical features. Also review your fire risk assessment after any incident or accident involving fire or smoke to ensure that any lessons learned from those events are incorporated into your next revision of the document.
- Changes to work processes including new equipment.
- Alterations to the building.
- Records of testing, maintenance and training.
- Consider potential risks if significant changes.
This concludes the 5 Steps of a Fire Safety Risk Assessment. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog.
Additional Workplace Tips:
Fire safety is a priority and there are ways to assess it. If you discover a fire hazard, there are ways to fix it. Fire risk assessments can be done by either trained professionals or non-professionals alike. It all depends on your needs and the amount of time you have available. However, if we’re going to take a look at the 5 steps of conducting a fire risk assessment, we need some professional help!
- Keep the workspace tidy.
- Test equipment for faults.
- Educate staff.
- Safe storage of flammable liquids and gases.
- Safe storage of chemicals.
- Dispose of workplace waste and dust correctly.
Following these five steps can help companies and individuals to protect themselves, their people and their property from a fire. There is no excuse for not having a fire risk assessment carried out when these assessments are so easy to implement and document. If you require any advice or help with your own fire risk assessment, then please contact us today. We would be happy to help you take the first steps toward ensuring your business is safe from fire.
Fire risk assessments are a very important part of the evaluation process and it is also one of the most complicated parts. If you are conducting an assessment for the first time or have never been trained in how to do so, make sure that you have all the resources necessary to help you get through it correctly. If you are looking for a fire risk assessment or other services related to fire safety, contact us today! We are a full-service fire safety company that can help you with all of your needs. We offer fire protection services and products, facility inspections, fire risk assessments and training.