Fire risk assessments in the non-residential sector

1 September 2022

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is an organised and methodical look at your premises, the activities carried out on there and the likelihood that a fire could start and cause harm to those in and around the premises. Fire risk assessments are essential for buildings that fall into the non-residential sector and are a huge component of overall fire safety.

The aims of a fire risk assessment are to:

  1. Identify the fire hazards
  2. Reduce the risk of those hazards causing harm to as low as reasonably practicable
  3. Decide what physical fire precautions and management arrangements are necessary to ensure the safety of people in your premises if a fire does start

Every non-residential building needs to carry out regular fire risk assessments and each type of building will have specific considerations and regulations to adhere to…

Offices and shops

Fire risk assessments are key in offices and shops to minimise the risk of injury or death to staff or the public. You must carry out fire risk assessments and keep them up to date to ensure that all the fire precautions in your premises remain current and adequate. For multi-occupied buildings it’s your responsibility to address fire safety issues within your individual occupancies. But additionally, the landlord or owner of the building is also responsible for ensuring fire safety measures in place throughout the common areas such as stairwells, toilets, foyers and other shared spaces. If you own more than one office or commercial building each building needs its own individual and tailored fire risk assessment. Sharing premises with others can mean an increase in risks to health and safety because one company can affect risks to another. Additionally, fire risk assessments in offices and shops will need to take into consideration the fact that often, there will be a mix of the general public and employees present in the building and this should be reflected in how they try to minimise risk. For example, offices may require guests to sign in upon arrival in order to account for every person in the building. 

Warehouses and factories

Fire risk assessments in warehouses and factories will need to take into consideration the specific function of the space when conducting their review.

Many warehouses and factories will have an increased risk of fire simply due to the nature of the work carried out within the building, whether it’s food manufacturing, hot work such as welding or soldering or storage of highly flammable materials. With this in mind, fire risk assessments for warehouses and factories should include aspects such as:

  • Equipment and machinery
  • Electrical safety
  • Dangerous substances: storage, display and use
  • Housekeeping and waste materials
  • Managing building work and alterations

Hotels and other sleeping accommodations

Hotels and other sleeping accommodations face unique challenges in conducting fire risk assessments and ensuring fire safety due to the type of people within these types of buildings. The people present in premises such as hotels, motels, guest and boarding houses will consist of members of the public, who may only be present over a short period of time, and staff. Members of the public (including contractors) are unlikely to have advance knowledge of your premises and so will be unfamiliar with the escape routes. 

These people may also be slow to respond for a number of reasons such as:

  • an unfamiliar alarm or inability to hear the alarm (due to hearing impairment)
  • belief that the alarm may be false and waiting for further direction from staff
  • a physical or mental impairment such as using a wheelchair
  • attempting to get fully dressed, gathering other family members together and
  • collecting personal belongings
  • being under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication

The number and capability of people present will influence your assessment of the escape routes. The number of people likely to use your premises at any time, may be fairly constant, e.g. in hostels, halls of residence and HMO type premises, but in hotels it can vary from a few people, to large numbers depending on the time of year, conference facilities and other social gatherings.

The age and construction of the premises will also be a factor when conducting fire risk assessments as some hotels may be constructed from older materials and may even be grade 11 listed.

Care homes

Fire risk assessments are particularly important in care homes as these types of properties present unique challenges and the consequences of getting fire safety wrong can be fatal. Additionally, fire safety failings may result in a care home being rated “inadequate” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and may even result in personal prosecution.

Care homes should pay particular attention to the following elements when conducting fire risk assessments:

  • Up-to-date or appropriately personalised plans– vulnerable peoples’ needs change over time, and plans can quickly become out of date.  
  • Frequent staff training and drills 
  • Staffing levels in an emergency – staffing levels may not always support evacuation strategy, especially at night.

Learn more about fire safety in care homes.

Getting help with your fire risk assessments

As fire risk assessments are such an important part of fire safety within the non-residential sector, it’s important that they are carried out thoroughly and efficiently. However, being the responsible person who is in charge of doing so can be extremely stressful and time consuming. This is compounded if you have more than one property to take care of.

That’s where we come in.

Our fire risk assessment methodology, template and approach to fire risk has been developed, reviewed and adapted over the last 16 years in business.

Our fire risk assessments assist the Responsible Person in identifying significant findings that are clear breaches of the Fire Safety Order, with priority, risk and time scales recorded to action the findings. Our process will also identify fire risks that may be outside the scope of the Fire Safety Order but could present a property or business continuity risk.

We even have our own fire risk management software, Aurora, which allows you to keep track of various sites and the actions within those sites, all in one place.

To make sure your non-residential property is fully fire safety compliant – contact us at Total Fire Group.

 

SERVICES

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Fire Risk Assessments

Delivering a comprehensive and detailed report on your property.

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Fire Safety Consultancy

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Fire Risk Management Software

Manage multiple risk assessment actions with our Aurora software.

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Fire Safety Training

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