Fire risk assessments are a legal requirement for anyone that owns property or is otherwise in control of commercial premises and other non-domestic premises, such as the common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings.

Conducting risk assessments helps you prevent fires, keeps your property and employees safe, and increases the chances that your business can recover should a costly fire happen.

All UK employers with five or more employees are required to keep a written record of their fire risk assessments. Whilst not required for smaller businesses, it is still considered best practice. The government recommends that you review your fire risk assessment annually, as well as after any significant changes to your building.

Who Completes the Fire Risk Assessment?

As an employer or someone responsible for a business or other non-domestic premises, you are responsible for undertaking and reviewing the fire risk assessment.

You can do the fire risk assessment yourself with the help of industry-specific guides from the Home Office found here found here. If you do not have the expertise or time to do it yourself, you need to appoint a competent fire risk assessor to undertake the assessment on your behalf. Failing to undertake a fire risk assessment or commissioning an assessor to do it for you could result in fines or imprisonment.

How Do I Undertake a Fire Risk Assessment?

Follow these five basic steps to undertake a fire risk assessment at your premises:

  1. Identify fire hazards. Determine how a fire could start, including fuel sources (such as rubbish, paper and paint) and ignition sources (such as heaters, lighting and naked flames).
  2. Identify who is at risk. Analyse whether any particular group (such as employees who are older or disabled) is more at risk than others.
  3. Evaluate and then remove or reduce the risks. Appraise the potential risk for each section of the property, noting possible fire hazards. For each hazard, devise a process to minimise or completely remove the risk.
  4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training. Keep clear, detailed records of any identified fire hazards and what you did to address them. Also, develop an emergency plan in case there is a fire. Train employees on the emergency plan and how they should react if there is a fire.
  5. Review and update the fire risk assessment annually. Review your fire risk assessment and emergency plan annually. In addition, you should make revisions if there is a fire.

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