The crucial role of responsible fire safety measures in all manner of buildings can scarcely be overstated – and one of the most important measures of all is the fire risk assessment, or FRA.
On a number of levels, it is simply common sense to do everything possible to protect the occupants of your non-domestic buildings from the risks that fire poses. Of course, you have a moral duty to protect human life – but it is also a legal requirement and makes good business sense.
A ‘fire risk assessment’ entails taking a comprehensive look at a business or other non-domestic property, as well as the people that use the property, to determine the level and nature of the fire risk on the given premises. This, in turn, allows for informed steps to be taken to improve fire safety in the property.
Who is responsible for completing a fire risk assessment?
If you are in control of a given business or other non-domestic property, you are responsible for fire safety on those premises. Consequently, you must carry out and review a fire risk assessment for the property on a regular basis.
The ‘responsible person’ for the property could be the owner of the building, the landlord, an occupier, the employer, or anyone else with control over the premises, such as a managing agent or facilities manager.
There can often be multiple ‘responsible persons’ for a given property – in which case, they will need to work together to ensure their responsibilities are met.
Can I carry out my own fire risk assessment?
As the ‘responsible person’ for your premises, you can choose to undertake the fire risk assessment yourself with the use of standard fire safety risk assessment guides. You might be especially likely to do this if the building is relatively small and you don’t believe the potential risks to be complex.
Alternatively, you might be unsure of the complexity of the fire risk posed by your buildings, or the premises may be larger and more difficult to manage.
If this is the case for you – or even if you simply lack the time and expertise to carry out the fire risk assessment yourself – you might appoint a ‘competent person’, such as a professional risk assessor, to handle the task directly.
What must you do as the responsible person?
As the responsible person, you will be expected to not only ensure a fire risk assessment of your premises is regularly undertaken and reviewed, but also inform the users of the buildings – or their representatives – of the risks you have identified through this process.
The responsible person is also required to implement and maintain appropriate fire safety measures, plan for an emergency, and provide staff using the premises with relevant information, fire safety instruction, and training.
From the identification and recording of fire hazards and at-risk people using the buildings, right through to determining where and what type of fire extinguishers are needed, and whether you will require new signage and lighting, there’s a lot to which you must pay careful attention as the ‘responsible person’.
What should be included in a fire risk assessment?
A fire risk assessment should consist of five broad stages:
- the identification of the fire hazards;
- the identification of people at risk;
- the evaluation, removal or reduction of those risks;
- the recording of findings, the preparation of an emergency plan and the provision of training;
- the regular reviewing and updating of the fire risk assessment.
Along the way, the ‘responsible person’ or ‘competent person’ will need to closely consider such aspects as the emergency routes and exits in the building, fire detection and warning systems, how any dangerous substances can be removed or safely stored, evacuation measures, and much more.
Using software to manage your fire risk
Given the wealth of frequently changing information that a ‘responsible person’ must keep track of in the management of the fire risk their premises represent, it’s understandable that there have been increasing steps in recent years to introduce software to the fire risk assessment process.
Dedicated fire risk assessment software, such as the relevant module that makes up part of ACMS UK’s renowned Vision platform, would allow you to go far beyond simply one-off fire risk assessments. Such software instead places the emphasis firmly on managing your property’s entire fire risk, so that you can be more confident of keeping on top of your fire safety responsibilities.
What are the benefits of using FRA software?
Citing the aforementioned Vision software as an example, here are just some of the advantages that a leading fire risk assessment platform could bring to your management of fire risk:
- It provides live data instead of hard-copy reports, which means that the information you have at your fingertips won’t immediately go out of date as soon as something changes about the fire risk situation at your property. Moreover, a hard copy of your fire risk assessment can still be created with the help of this software, should it be needed.
- It provides an all-in-one solution for the management of your premises’ fire risk, with no need to worry about disorganised spreadsheets or misplaced paperwork.
- It centralises everything via ‘the cloud’, which means you don’t need to look anywhere else for all of the latest findings and data in relation to fire safety in your buildings.
- It enables easier reporting, sharing, updating, budgeting, and visibility of risks, with everything able to be evaluated and reviewed in one place. This will help ensure you only make the most informed decisions on how to keep the occupants of your premises safe.
- It allows for real-time updates, so that neither the contained data nor the software itself will need to be simply ‘left’ to go out of date – updates can happen immediately as needed.
- It reduces paperwork, as it negates the need for paper – meaning you don’t have to fear losing crucial fire-safety documentation that might have previously only existed in hard-copy form. This can also enable you to make a quicker overall transition to a ‘paperless office’.
Would you like to learn more about how powerful and useful ACMS UK’s Vision Fire Risk Assessment and Management Software Module could be for giving you visibility, convenience and peace of mind in your capacity as a ‘responsible person’?
If so, we would be delighted to give you the chance to discuss and experience a demonstration of this platform; simply call our team now to find out more.