Fire Risk Assessment

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

The government came up with regulations in an attempt to reduce the menace of fire accidents. This regulation required businesses and organisations to take the fire risk assessment.

Businesses with five or more employees are expected to possess a writer record of fire risk assessment. The risk assessment must be carried out in line with government-stipulated guidelines.

Fire risk assessment is a method that aids the identification of people at risk of fire in your building. It helps to identify the number of people at risk and how to handle fire outbreaks.

When Should Fire Risk Assessment Be Done?

The fire safety regulations do not specifically give time for the assessments to be done. However, business owners are mandated to carry out the assessments. More so, it must be updated as and when due in line with the regulatory reform.

There are reasons for fire risk assessment to orient building owners and business persons on the need for fire risk assessment. Some of these reasons are below;

  • When there is a notable change in the architectural structure
  • When there is a change in the function of a specific part of the building
  • Increase in the number of staff employed. Most importantly, when disabled staff are on board.
  • Damage to the fire safety devices attached to the building
  • When there is a presence of hazardous or explosive substances in the environment
  • After a fire outbreak incident

Who Should Take the Fire Risk Assessment?

The regulation demanded that every business owner and building owner carry out the assessment regularly. They must constantly assess their building at a specified time. It must be done when any of the above-listed reasons occur.

However, if the responsible person is not available for the assessment for whatever reason, some professional assessors can help with fire risk assessment. They have been trained to carry out the assessments in line with the laid down regulations. Also, they will help in documenting such documents in the required standard format.

How to Carry Out Fire Risk Assessment for Offices and Shops?

When carrying out a fire risk assessment for offices and shops, some elements must be considered. These elements are;

1. Identification of Hazards

All items that could serve as a source of ignition should be taken note of. Items like lighters, matches, gas flame, candle, welding equipment, lighting equipment, electric equipment, and cooking equipment should be considered in the assessment.

Flammable fuel sources should also be considered. They could be cooking oil, LPG, paints, polyurethane materials, and waste products should be properly identified. Not only that, all oxidising agents, oxygen cylinders, and pyrotechnic items, including fireworks, must be properly assessed.

2. Identifying People at Risk

In identifying people at risk, the following learners should be considered;

  • Isolated employees like guards and cleaners.
  • Customers, guests, visitors, and seasonal or part-time employees
  • Neighbours in the environment
  • Physically disabled staff and visitors, including the elderly, may find it difficult to evacuate the environment quickly.
  • People with language barriers in the environment.

3. Precautionary Measures

They involve evaluation of all conditions above and attempting to reduce the chance of fire outbreak. It involves the removal of dangerous items and replacing them with safe ones.

Maintenance of equipment and appropriate storage of flammable items reduces the damage rate and creates awareness for vulnerable people. There should be installing fire safety precautions, fire alarms, evacuation plans, signs and notices, escape routes, and lightning.

How to Carry Out Fire Risk Assessment for Health Care Premises?

The risk of damages in health care centres are very high compared to other places. It is an environment that contains more vulnerable people. Therefore, a fire risk assessment should be made a top priority. However, the following elements must be considered;

1. Identifying the Hazards

Unlike an office or residential area, the source of ignition in health care premises is different. Sources of ignition in health care premises can be electricity, matches, lighter, candle, welding by contractor, cooking equipment, and arson by a mentally unstable patient.

Sources of fuel in a fire outbreak can be laundry supplies, toiletries, medical supplies, wood and furniture materials, cleaning products, and LPG. Sources of oxygen can be any oxidising agents or oxygen supply from cylinders.

2. Identifying People at Risk

For an environment such as healthcare premises, the people at risk are the following;

  • Isolated employees such as nursing staff, securities, cleaners, maintenance staff, and night shift staff
  • Staff, visitors, contractors, and anyone unfamiliar with healthcare premises.
  • An incapacitated patient may find it difficult to evacuate the environment without assistance during a fire outbreak. Those with sensory or mental impairment should be considered, as well.
  • Guests with mobility challenges and little children around the premises
  • People with language barriers.

3. Precautionary Measures

The following precautionary measures must be put in place to reduce the chances of fire outbreaks. Such measures are;

  • Smoking should be prohibited in and around the premises.
  • Constant maintenance of electric materials and equipment
  • Alternatives to flammable materials should be used where and when possible.
  • Mentally unstable patients should be watched over carefully to avoid arson attacks.
  • Naked flames should be avoided at all costs.

How to Carry Out  Fire Risk Assessment for Residential Care Premises?

Care premises like schools for babies and adult care centres must also take the fire risk assessment. More like a healthcare premise, the rate of vulnerability is also high. The following elements should be considered while doing the assessment;

1. Identifying the Hazards

The ignition source in care premises can be electric equipment, matches, lighters, cooking equipment, heaters, vandalism, and arson. Sources of fuel for fire could be building structures, laundry supplies, medical supplies, linen materials, wood and furniture materials, paper products, clothing materials, cleaning products, flammables like LPG.

The point of hazard in care premises can also be the source of oxygen. Sources of oxygen include oxidising agents and materials in the environment, including supplies from cylinders.

2. Identifying People at Risk

A proper fire risk assessment will take into consideration people at risk in this environment. In care premises, people at risk are the following;

  • Isolated employees such as nursing staff, maintenance staff, and staff on night shifts
  • Isolated workers such as contractors and maintenance workers
  • People that are not familiar with the premises, including new staff and visitors.
  • Less privileged residents, including the elderly, babies, physically challenged people, and people with sensory impairment.
  • People with mobility issues, including babies.
  • People who are allergic to panic and may react negatively to alarm and commotion.

3. Precautionary Measures

The following measures should be put in place to reduce the chances of a fire outbreak in care premises;

  • Restricting and prohibiting smoking in and around the premises.
  • Constant maintenance of electric equipment and materials
  • Alternatives to flammable materials should be used where possible.
  • Permits should be issued for any hot works to be carried out on the premises.
  • Arson attacks should be prevented through proper monitoring.
  • Make flames should be avoided and also restrict the movement of portable heating appliances.

In carrying out a fire risk assessment for a particular building, the owner must be informed that the two premises are never the same. As such, the fire risk assessment is unique to every building. When needed, the service of professional assessors and city fire team may be required.

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