We all know that prevention is better than cure. This simply philosophy also applies to fire safety. Most fires are preventable; but only if those responsible for workplaces and other buildings take their responsibilities seriously and adopt the correct procedures.
Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) are a requirement by law for commercial properties and is the first step to making a premises safe. It is an organised and methodical look at your premises, assessing and highlighting any likelihood that a fire could start. Once the risks have been raised, you can then take the appropriate action to control, avoid and manage these risks. Examples include; keeping ignition and flammable sources apart, the installation of smoke detectors/fire alarms, keeping fire exits and escape routes clear at all times and ensuring your staff have received adequate training on procedures, such as fire drills.
However, after doing a quick Google search myself on ‘fire risk assessments’, it becomes clear on how easily companies/landlords can find quick and easy cheap fixes to this essential fire safety requirement. A never-ending list comes up with websites advertising and offering ‘templates’ that are available to download and safety courses.
Unfortunately, FRA’s can be viewed by companies and landlords as something that they don’t want to spend the money on, as they can’t see the real value in them. This then leads them to do a Google search like myself, print off a template from one of the websites and believe that they have followed the required procedures and complied with legislation.
It is essential that your FRA is taken out by a competent and fully qualified FRA Assessor. Sometimes, it is believed that persons who have served in a Fire Brigade would be over-qualified and have all the knowledge needed; or also anyone that has completed a one- day FRA seminar would be perfect to take out the assessment. ‘You may appoint anybody to complete your fire risk assessment but you need to ensure that they are suitably trained and experienced. There are also people that you can employ to carry out your fire risk assessment on your behalf.’ It is your responsibility to employ the correct person to take on the FRA.
It is these misinterpretations that are still leaving people at risk- and more often than not, it is after a fire that the true responsibilities of protecting people is realised. Examples of this were highlighted in the previous blog, some unfortunately ending in fatalities- but all of which could have been prevented.
So, if you are looking to have a FRA on your property, make sure you do it properly. Looking for a cheap fix or deal in the short-term, could seriously cost you a lot more in the long-term. It is essential that it is carried out by a competent FRA Assessor and appropriate action to be taken in the property as advised by the Assessor. Annual FRA are needed to make sure that the assessment is still relevant to the property.