Whether you are an Estates Manager within a local hospital, an employer or a social landlord with housing stock up and down the country, as the responsible person (RP) you must ensure that your building is both proficient in preventing a fire and capable of withstanding a fire long enough to allow its occupants a safe exit. To do this, you should look at hiring a professional Fire Risk Assessor to provide you with an in-depth fire risk assessment.
A fire risk assessment can help you determine any potential causes of fire, hazards during a fire and the consequences of a fire within your building. This will help you piece together arrangements for the management of fire safety and supports your compliance as the RP.
Why do I need a Fire Risk Assessment?
A fire risk assessment (FRA) is a legal requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This involves a thorough assessment of a property or building to evaluate the factors that determine the hazard from fire, how likely it is that there will be a fire and the consequences should a fire break out.
The Local Government Association (LGA) recommends that FRAs should be reviewed every year and redone every three years in buildings that are older, at a higher risk or more than three storeys high. For those in low-rise blocks of up to three storeys or built in the last 20 years, FRAs should be reviewed every two years and redone every four.
Choosing a competent Fire Risk Assessor could be the difference between saving lives and a long prison sentence. In 2011, a hotelier and an external fire risk assessor were imprisoned after officers from Nottingham Fire and Rescue Service found that two hotels were being used to provide sleeping accommodation on the upper floors and that fire precautions, which should have been provided to safeguard the occupants in the event of a fire, were inadequate.
With this in mind, it is vital that you do your research. This will help you to ensure that your Fire Risk Assessor is right for the job. Even if you feel satisfied with your current FRA, it may be worth having the work audited to ensure it is up to the standards of the current regulations.
What does a ‘competent’ Fire Risk Assessor look like?
A ‘competent’ Fire Risk Assessor should be a qualified professional, with the knowledge, skills and behaviour required to confidently assess premises(s).
Consider these things when appointing your professional:
Are they qualified?
Take a look at their CV. What qualifications do they have? A competent Fire Risk Assessor will have the right qualifications for the job. Look for NEBOSH qualifications or NVQs.
Ask for references
A good Fire Risk Assessor will be able to provide you with references of people they have previously worked for. Give these references a call to gather another perspective on the assessor and their work.
Look at their previous work
Have they worked on any similar jobs to the one you are proposing? Some Assessors may be more capable of completing fire risk assessments on a larger scale, i.e. multiple blocks of flats.
Do they have evidence of Quality Assurance?
Do they meet International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) 9001 requirements? These are the standards that demonstrate a company’s ability to meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements
Just as with any other service, you should compare quotes from multiple Fire Risk Assessors or companies. If you think the price is too low, the service may not be of good quality. Be careful to not overspend. You will get a better understanding of what the general cost of a competent FRA should be through comparing quotes.
If you require an external Fire Risk Assessor, then you should choose appropriately. They should be right for your circumstances with a mix of knowledge, skills and behaviour that will enable them to produce a meaningful FRA that is suitable to the complexity of your premises and the hazards and potential risks present.
How can Pennington Choices help?
Pennington Choices are accredited to BAFE, are an IFE Affiliate Organisation and a member of the Fire Protection Association. Our service covers all properties that require fire risk assessments under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005.
If you are interested in our Fire Risk Assessment services or would like a quote, complete our quick and simple form and a surveyor will contact you with a free quotation with no obligation to proceed.