Find out what a Fire Safety Risk Assessment is and how to undertake one
What is a fire safety risk assessment
A Fire Safety Risk Assessment looks at:
activities carried out there
potential for a fire to occur
the harm it could cause
The 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.
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:
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.
There are more than 3,000 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