Fire Risk Assessment Guidance

Fire Risk Assessment Guidance

From offices and shops to care homes and sleeping accommodation and everything in between, you must create and maintain a quality Fire Risk Assessment under the appropriate fire safety legislation to ensure you keep your people and premises safe from fire.

What exactly is a Fire Risk Assessment?

Fire Risk Assessments are commonly misunderstood as being an action that establishes a safe building. A Fire Risk Assessment is a report of the adequacy of a building’s fire safety at the exact time when it was carried out. This humble statement is not meant to undermine its significant importance however, but it does not immediately make a building safe from fire risk. There may be actions required by the building owner/manager to mitigate any identified risk.

A Fire Risk Assessment can be compared to a car’s MOT test certificate, where a car is tested to see if it meets road safety requirements on the day of testing and is tested annually. Fire Risk Assessments should be treated in a similar fashion, reviewing it regularly to ensure it is still fit for purpose for your building.

“Undertaking a fire safety risk assessment is not a one-off exercise. The risk assessment is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The outcome of the assessment needs to be acted upon, risks need to be controlled in a practical way, and fire safety arrangements need to be in place.” - SCOT FireLaw, Risk Assessment Process

Quote from (now archived)

Building Owners and Premises Managers take note

Fire Risk Assessments may highlight unnecessary or heightened risk that can be controlled or removed with appropriate action. It is only when these actions have been undertaken by the person responsible for fire safety in this building (and the Fire Risk Assessment has been reviewed again) that this really becomes an effective means in protecting people who use the building (staff, visitors, residents), the building itself and the emergency services (if a fire does occur).

When creating a new or renovating an existing building, make sure you establish a thorough record of what materials and design criteria have been used for this. A Fire Risk Assessor must be able to trust the specifications and compliance certification of the materials that have been used and the level of their fire stopping ability to make the appropriate evaluation.

e.g. If materials recommended in the design stage have been substituted during the installation, this should be documented clearly. If a Fire Risk Assessor does not have access to this information, they can only note this in their report which the building owner or manager must address to confirm its safety.

BAFE strongly recommends the use of Third Party Certificated Fire Risk Assessment providers to help meet your first safety law obligations.

If you require help to create or review your Fire Risk Assessment you can specify a BAFE SP205 Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment Registered Company. These companies will have been independently assessed via UKAS Accredited Certification Bodies (NSI or SSAIB) to demonstrate their competency to deliver this service.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) state:

“No matter who carries out your fire risk assessment duty holders retain responsibility for ensuring that the assessment fulfils the requirements of the law. If you have duties under Fire Safety law, you are not expected to be an expert in assessing and controlling fire safety risks, but even when employing a contractor to help with an assessment or additional safety measures, reasonable checks should be made to ensure that the contractor is competent to properly undertake the work.”
Further Guidance on Fire Risk Assessment

Please Note: External links have been selected and reviewed as appropriate when the page was published or updated. BAFE is not responsible for the content of external websites and links/content may be changed without BAFE’s knowledge.

GOV.UK - Fire safety law and guidance documents for business

Fire Sector Federation - Choosing a Fire Risk Assessor

National Fire Chiefs Council - Fire Safety Risk Assessment Guidance

GOV.SCOT – FireLaw guidance

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – Fire Risk Assessment

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – Advice on Fire Safety

Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service – fireSAFE

Every effort is made to ensure that the information provided is accurate and up to date.

No legal responsibility is accepted for any errors or omissions.