Fire Risk Assessment

A Fire Safety Risk Assessment looks at your premises, the activities carried out there, the potential for a fire to occur and the harm it could cause.

The Fire Safety Risk Assessment has been developed to identify hazards and to reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm. It will also help to determine what fire safety measures and management policies are necessary to ensure the safety of people in the building, should a fire occur.

If you decided to employ someone to carry out your fire safety risk assessment you are free to arrange any assistance you consider appropriate in fulfilling the risk assessment duty.

If you are looking to employ a fire safety specialist, it can be difficult to judge the competence of companies and persons who advertise their services as fire risk assessors.

There are registration schemes in operation for persons and companies that carry out fire risk assessments. Details of registration and certification schemes can be found in our Advice on Fire Safety.

Even where external assistance is used, the dutyholder remains legally responsible and accountable for fire safety in the premises.

Information about fire law in Scotland is available on the Scottish Government’s website.

Undertaking a fire risk assessment

There are five steps in the assessment process

1. Identify the people at risk

An assessment should be made of those persons at risk from fire. This involves identifying the number and capability of people residing, occupying or working on the premises and others who frequent the premises such as visitors, customers or contractors. Those with some form of disability or frailty (either temporary or permanent) may have difficulty in responding to a fire, or in leaving a building if there is a fire, which must be taken in to account.

2. Identify the fire hazards

Identify the ignition sources (for example naked lights), fuel (combustible materials such as paper, wood and flammable liquids) and oxygen (the most common source is the air). By reducing unattended ignition sources and combustible materials that could come into contact with each other, the chances of a fire starting are reduced. Ensuring that fire doors are kept closed and in a good state of repair can limit air flow into the fire compartment.

3. Evaluate the risk and decide if existing fire safety measures are adequate

The chances of fire starting, given the fire hazards identified in Step 2, should be assessed, including through wilful fire-raising. This risk should then be measured for each of the groups of people identified in Step 1.

Measures should then be introduced to reduce the severity of the risk to people through Risk Reduction Principles.

These Principles are required by Law and are:

  • Avoiding risks
  • Evaluating those risks that cannot be avoided
  • Combating risks at source
  • Adapting to technical progress
  • Replacing the dangerous with non- or less dangerous
  • Developing a coherent fire prevention policy
  • Giving collective fire safety measures over individual measures
  • Giving appropriate instruction to employees

4. Record the Fire Risk Assessment information

Certain circumstances require that the significant findings of the Fire Risk Assessment are recorded. These circumstances are:

Where there are 5 or more employees (in the same premises or not)

  • Where the premises are subject to a licence or registration
  • Where an Alterations Notice under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 requires this

The information required to be recorded includes:

  • Any significant findings from the Fire Risk Assessment
  • The resulting fire safety measures implemented
  • Those persons who are especially at risk
  • Arrangements put in place for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and reviewing of the arrangements that have been put in place

This information should then be kept available for inspection by the enforcing authority- in most cases this is the local fire and rescue service.

5. Review of Fire Risk Assessment

A review of the Fire Risk Assessment should be carried out at regular intervals. It should be carried out where the findings of a previous Fire Risk Assessment are felt to be out of date.

This may be because:

  • A long period of time has elapsed since the previous Fire Risk Assessment
  • There has been a significant change to the premises, or the processes within the premises, that may affect the validity of the previous Assessment

Comprehensive advice on the Fire Risk Assessment process, including a blank template, can be found on the InfoScotland - FireLaw website.

In addition, there is specific Fire Risk Assessment advice for all relevant types of premises in Chapter 4 of the "Practical Fire Safety Guidance" documents produced by the Scottish Government.

Deliberate Firesetting

There are more than 3000 deliberate firesetting attacks on businesses each year in the UK.  Protect your business:

  • Store rubbish away from buildings
  • Rubbish should not accumulate, increase uplifts if necessary
  • Review security and access to your site
  • Report anti- social behaviour to the police and share information with neighbouring businesses
  • Report evidence of any fire to your local fire service
  • Fit anti firesetting letter boxes
  • For further advice contact your local Fire Safety Office

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