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What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

flames in front of a fire extinguisher.A fire risk assessment is a review of a building or workspace to identify fire hazards and put in place control measures. It assesses many factors that pose a fire hazard, identifies the risk level, and recommends ways to improve safety. Fire risk assessments only need writing down if there are more than five occupants, but it’s advisable to always keep a written record.

All business premises in the UK must legally have a fire risk assessment under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO). The Fire Safety Act 2021 clarifies who is responsible for ensuring a fire risk assessment is carried out and what areas of the building must be covered.

Discover what a fire risk assessment is, when you need one, and how it works with these answers to common questions.

What does a fire risk assessment do?

A fire risk assessment protects users of a building or workspace against the hazards of a fire breaking out. It’s essentially an audit of existing fire safety measures that assess the building, activities carried out on-site, equipment, furniture, and any other factors that could lead to a fire. This information is used to create control measures to prevent fires.

A fire risk assessment:

Who needs a fire risk assessment?

Anyone responsible for a building must conduct a fire risk assessment, such as a building owner, employer, or occupier of a premises that isn’t for domestic use. If five or more people work at the premises then you must have a written record of a fire risk assessment to operate safely and legally.

All kinds of business owners are responsible for ensuring appropriate fire risk assessments are conducted on their premises. This includes offices, restaurants, takeaways, shops, and factories – as well as places like schools, hospitals, and libraries. Employers meet their duty of care and legal obligations by carrying out fire risk assessments.

What should a fire risk assessment include?

A fire risk assessment should include:

Use this free fire safety checklist for more ideas of what to cover.

How many steps are in a fire safety risk assessment?

There are five steps in a fire safety risk assessment:

  1. Identify fire hazards
  2. Consider people at risk
  3. Evaluate risks and act
  4. Keep a record and plan
  5. Review regularly

Who is responsible for a fire risk assessment?

Employers are responsible for ensuring a fire risk assessment is carried out on their working premises as they’re considered the ‘responsible person.’ Building owners and landlords are also responsible for fire risk assessments, as well as occupants who have control of the premises used.

Whether you own or rent your workspace as an employer it’s advisable to conduct a fire assessment. Even if the building owner has done one you may use the space for activities or have equipment and machinery operating not covered by their review. Employers have a responsibility for employee health and safety so it’s good practice to conduct one.

How often should a fire risk assessment be carried out and reviewed?

The responsible person must carry out a fire risk assessment of the building or premises and regularly review it. This should be done when you first own or take control of a building or working premises to reduce the risks of fire before one breaks out.

There’s no legal specification for how often to review a fire risk assessment. However, an annual review is advisable to stay safe. You should also conduct a new fire risk assessment when anything changes in the workplace. This could be building works, renovations, new activities, equipment and machinery, or other big changes.

How to write a fire risk assessment

The easiest way to write a fire risk assessment is to use our online risk assessment software. Save time and effort with a wide range of free templates you can edit, download, and store securely online. Assign risk levels and control measures to form an effective fire risk assessment for your workplace.

You can also write a manual fire risk assessment by following the five key steps mentioned above (identify fire hazards, consider people at risk, evaluate risks and act, keep a record and plan, and review regularly). Find out more with this free fire safety toolbox talk.