A fire risk assessment will help you determine the chances of a fire starting and the dangers from fire that your premises present for the people who use them and any person in the immediate vicinity. The assessment method suggested in this guide shares the same approach as that used in general health and safety legislation and can be carried out either as part of a more general risk assessment or as a separate exercise. As you move through the steps there are checklists to help you.
Much of the information for your fire risk assessment will come from the knowledge your employees, colleagues and representatives have of the premises, as well as information given to you by people who have responsibility for other parts of the building. A tour of your premises will probably be needed to confirm, amend or add detail to your initial views.
It is important that you carry out your fire risk assessment in a practical and systematic way and that you allocate enough time to do a proper job. It must take the whole of your premises into account, including outdoor locations and any rooms and areas that are rarely used. If your premises are small you may be able to assess them as a whole. In larger premises you may find it helpful to divide them into rooms or a series of assessment areas using natural boundaries, e.g. process areas (such as bakeries and cooking facilities in shops), offices, stores, as well as corridors, stairways and external routes.
If your premises are in a multi-use complex then the information on hazard and risk reduction will still be applicable to you. However, any alterations to the use or structure of your individual unit will need to take account of the overall fire safety arrangements in the building.
Your premises may be simple, with few people present or with a limited degree of business activity, but if it forms part of a building with different occupancies, then the measures provided by other occupiers may have a direct effect on the adequacy of the fire safety measures in your premises.
Under health and safety law (enforced by the HSE/HSENI or the local authority) you are required to carry out a risk assessment in respect of any work processes in your workplace and to take or observe appropriate special, technical or organisational measures. If your health and safety risk assessment identifies that these processes are likely to involve the risk of fire or the spread of fire then you will need to take this into account during your fire risk assessment under the order and prioritise actions based on the level of risk. You need to appoint one or more competent persons (this could be you) to carry out any of the preventive and protective measures needed to comply with the order.
This person could be you, or an appropriately trained employee or, where appropriate, a third party. Your fire risk assessment should demonstrate that, as far as is reasonable, you have considered the needs of all relevant persons, including disabled people.