Have you carried out your Fire Prevention Obligations?

If you are an employer, then you will have a duty under the appropriate fire safety legislation to carry out a fire risk assessment. Similarly, if you occupy or otherwise have a degree of control over any non-domestic premises (or if empty and you own it), then you are likely to have this duty.

A fire risk assessment identifies possible hazards as well as the actions you need to take to keep the people on your premises safe. It needs to be kept up to date and reviewed on a regular basis, in particular when something changes that could affect fire safety or you have any other reason to suspect that it is no longer valid (e.g. a change in occupancy, in the building, in nature of contents or after a fire

Appointing a specialist to carry out a fire risk assessment No matter who carries out the fire risk assessment the duty holder retains the responsibility for ensuring the adequacy of that assessment. If employing a specialist to undertake your fire risk assessment, whilst you are not expected to be an expert in fire safety, you should make reasonable checks to ensure that they are competent to do the job properly. There are some simple steps and precautions you can take to help verify the competence and suitability of a prospective fire risk assessor:

 Be satisfied that the fire risk assessor providing this service is competent to do so. We recommend you check that those providing this service have independent registration with, or certification from, a professional or certification body and that they meet the competency criteria established by the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council (see list below)
 Check that they have experience of undertaking fire risk assessments for your kind of business and premises
 Request references from previous clients in premises of your type; ask these clients if they were satisfied and if any problems were later identified You should also undertake the following:
 Ensure that the scope of the work you want carried out is agreed in writing.
 Ensure that you provide the assessor with access to all areas of the premises and with all relevant information
 Obtain alternative quotes – make sure they all cover the same scope, so you can compare like with like
 Ask for proof that they have sufficient professional indemnity insurance, public liability insurance and assure yourself that the fire risk assessor is impartial and you have access to a complaints procedure if necessary
 Ensure you have adequate records of the steps you took in selecting your fire
risk assessor.

How to find a competent fire risk assessor
It is important that the person who carries out the fire risk assessment is competent. There are two principal methods by which people can demonstrate their competence;
 Professional Body Registration schemes
 Certification by a Certification Body that is UKAS accredited for the activity.

It is also important that the company for whom the fire risk assessor works has adequate management systems in place, even if the fire risk assessor is self employed. Competence of a company to deliver fire risk assessments can be demonstrated by third party certification of the company by a UKAS accredited Certification Body. Appendix 1 contains a list of Professional Bodies that operate Registration schemes and Certification Bodies that operate Certification schemes for fire risk assessors and fire risk assessment companies The Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council recommends the use of fire risk assessment companies, including sole traders, which are third party certificated to appropriate schemes operated by Certification Bodies which have been UKAS accredited to certificate against such schemes. As a duty holder, you do not need to be an expert in registration and certificationschemes. The following information will give you a better understanding of these schemes and how they operate.A ‘scheme’ – identifies what needs to be assessed and what methods of assessment are used. As noted above, there are a number of schemes relating to fire risk
 A ‘company’ scheme is operated by a certification body and looks at the competence of personnel and the management systems within the company.
 A ‘person certification’ scheme is operated by a certification body and is concerned with the competency of the individual and not the competency of a company
 A ‘professional body’ scheme is operated by a professional body and is concerned with the competency of the individual and not the competency of a company.

All schemes maintain a register, which lists the individuals or companies that have been assessed to meet the requirements of the scheme. Certification Bodies – Assess the fire risk assessor (individual or company) against the requirements of a ‘scheme’.

If you have questions about fire risk assessments or would like to speak to MCL about having a risk assessment carried out by ourselves please contact us on 028 9030 1752!