fire risk assessor
If you are an employer, or if you own or manage any kind of non-domestic premises, it’s very likely you’re legally obliged to conduct fire risk assessments as required under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Where do you start when assessing your need for a fire risk assessor? Fire risk assessments are done to identify all the potential fire hazards at your premises. Once those hazards are known, you can pinpoint the actions you must take to address them. As well as carrying out the initial assessments, you need to keep them up to date by regularly reviewing them and always looking out for any reasons why they might no longer be valid – for example, a change in occupancy or building use. How do you go about assessing your need for a fire risk assessor?

Know your limits

In some instances you may feel able to carry out your own fire risk assessment. This is often the case where premises are small, low risk and straightforward to assess. But it’s vital that anyone undertaking fire risk assessments knows their limits. Even in a straightforward premises, assessors must be satisfied they can identify all the potential causes of fire, the people who could be at risk and every scenario that could therefore arise. They need to be capable of evaluating all fire safety measures and arrangements for fire safety management and initiate action to deal with any gaps. Where a business employs 5 or more people, they must also record all significant findings. (Businesses with less than 5 people aren’t obliged to record their assessments in writing. But if something goes wrong it may be harder to prove an assessment took place so smaller businesses may still want to consider keeping notes.) With all this to address, some people and businesses make the decision that due to complexity of the premises, concerns about competence, or just a lack of time, they prefer to use an external fire risk assessor instead. If you feel this might apply to your circumstances, how should you go about finding one that’s right for you?

1. Check fire risk assessor competence

Clearly the most essential thing you need to do is check they are competent. It might sound obvious but make sure your assessor has the right credentials to do the job properly. Look for someone, or for a company, who has been validated by a professional body registration scheme or is certified by a UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited certification body such as BAFE or NSI.

2. Ask about their experiencefire risk assessor

Any good fire risk assessor will be more than happy to explain the experience they have assessing in your sector or at similar kinds of premises as well as share references from previous clients so feel free to ask them. You might also want to ask for confirmation that they have sufficient professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance in place. Don’t feel awkward asking for this kind of information – fire risk assessors appreciate the importance of it and are happy to provide it.

3. Make sure you are both clear about the scope of the work to be done

Fire risk assessors are not there to judge you. They are there to help you. By being open with them and giving full access to the area where the assessment needs to cover, plus any associated information, they can come back with a clear proposal and plan of action. Get everything agreed in writing so you are both clear about what will be covered. As well as ensuring there won’t be any subsequent confusion, it also ensures you are comparing like for like if getting a few quotes. A low quote might sound good but not actually deliver the service you were expecting.

4. Keep records

Be aware that even when using an external fire risk assessor, you could still be held accountable if something happens that you should have dealt with but didn’t. So keep records of the steps you have taken for choosing your assessor. Being able to demonstrate you had carried out checks to ensure their competence and capability as far as reasonably possible will protect you. And it’s a good thing to do anyway; it helps you follow a process that should ensure you find an assessor who’s experienced in your sector and who will help you keep your people and premises protected from fire.

Jackson Fire and Security can carry out fire risk assessments at your premises – to find out more visit our website or call 01352 755866.