Can anyone conduct a fire risk assessment?
Updated: Jan 24, 2022
It sounds easy doesn’t it? I mean it’s a risk assessment right?
The governments guidance on conducting a Fire risk assessment is as follows:
Identify the fire hazards.
Identify people at risk.
Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks.
Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training.
Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly.
The problem with this guidance is that it doesn’t give any context. Article 9 of the Regulatory reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states:
“9.—(1) The responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on him by or under this Order.”
The words in this section that are deceptively meaningful are “suitable and sufficient”. For a risk assessment to be suitable and sufficient the person conducting the assessment needs to be deemed competent.
What does competent mean? Good question. Competence is defined within the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 under regulation “7.- (5) A person shall be regarded as competent where he has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable him properly to assist in undertaking the measures referred to”
In order to answer the question can anyone conduct a Fire risk assessment? ask the following questions:
Has the person you are thinking of undertaken any fire risk assessment training or fire safety management training?
Does the person you are thinking of have experience of how fire behaves and experience of undertaking fire risk assessments?
Does the person you are thinking of understand passive fire protection, Fire detection and alarm systems, Escape routes and construction, Travel distances, Safety signs, Compartmentation of properties and fire stopping?
This is not an exhaustive list of questions that should be asked but if the answer is no to any of these I would consider looking elsewhere.
What next? Well, you have a couple of options.
1. You can place someone on a training course. However, this will only address the training element of the competency issue. After this the person would need to gain experience and knowledge commensurate with the properties being assessed.
2. You could employ the services of a trained fire risk assessor. These assessors can provide evidence of training along with a C.V that will demonstrate knowledge and experience and also be a member of a professional body.
Below is a link to a story of what can happen when Risk assessors get it wrong. When you read it ask yourself this; Do you really want to take a chance?
Public school fined for woeful fire safety