A Quick Guide to Fire Risk Assessments

If you’re responsible for any kind of building – including residential buildings – there are a huge number of considerations that need to be made in order to ensure you are meeting all legal obligations. Among this complex web of requirements, one of the most crucial is ensuring that your building is safe for your tenants. Regular Fire Risk Assessments are, therefore, an incredibly important part of the management of your building. So, what is a Fire Risk Assessment and who is responsible for ensuring the compliance of your building?

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

Fire Risk Assessments are a legal requirement under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to ensure the safety of your building in event of a fire. They involve a careful consideration of your property and the people who use them, including employees and residents, to confirm there is suitable arrangements in place both for the prevention of fire and in case of fire. Fire Risk Assessments help you and your tenants to understand the potential risks and the necessary precautions that should be taken to prevent fires.

Who is Responsible for Fire Risk Assessments?

Every block of flats, house of multiple occupancy, and business dwelling is required to have appointed a “Responsible Person”. This individual is responsible for the fire safety of the building by ensuring that fire safety tasks are completed, necessary actions are taken to prevent the occurrence of fires, and to prevent the risk of death if a fire does occur. Therefore, the appointed Responsible Person is also the one who will need to ensure that a valid Fire Risk Assessment is conducted on your building on a regular basis.

The Responsible Person may be the landlord, or the managing agent who oversees the general management of the property. In some cases, a Residents’ Association member may also be named as the Responsible Person. Whoever is appointed, the Responsible Person for multiple occupancy residences, such as blocks of flats, is only responsible for communal areas, such as corridors, stairwells, and entrances/exits.

Who Conducts a Fire Risk Assessment?

While the Responsible Person is the one who will arrange for a Fire Risk Assessment to be conducted, they will not carry out the assessment themselves. By law, this assessment must be conducted by a “competent” individual who has expertise and training in fire safety. Fire risk assessors must undergo detailed training in order to effectively measure the safety of different kinds of buildings.

A Fire Risk Assessment will involve an evaluation of various factors, including:

  • Potential fire hazards;
  • Emergency escape routes and exits;
  • Fire detection and warning systems;
  • Condition of Firefighting equipment
  • Emergency fire evacuation plan;
  • Consideration of the needs of vulnerable people (e.g., the elderly, young children, people with disabilities);
  • Available information for people on premises;
  • Fire safety training for staff (if applicable);
  • Procedures in place for management and maintenance of the fire safety provisions.

Fire risk assessors will also issue a description and evaluation of the premises and occupants (if applicable) and provide an action plan with suggested timescales to right any deficiencies. There is no official requirement for how often Fire Risk Assessments should be carried out or reviewed under law. For large blocks Horizon will instruct an annual Fire Risk Assessment however for smaller modern blocks, the Local Government Association (LGA) recommends that for low-rise (up to three storeys) blocks of flats, built in the last 20 years, Fire Risk Assessments should be reviewed every 2 years and re-done every 4 years.

Arranging a Fire Risk Assessment for Your Building

When arranging a Fire Risk Assessment for your building, the first consideration to make is who you appoint as your Responsible Person. You may have already appointed a Responsible Person, or you may be acting as the Responsible Person yourself; but did you know that your Block Manager can also act as your building’s Responsible Person? This means that they will be responsible for arranging Fire Risk Assessments and maintaining the safety of your building on your behalf, giving you peace of mind that your building is up to the legal standards.

Get in touch with Horizon Management today to find out more how we can help make the management of your block or development as straightforward as possible. We’re happy to help!

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