June 28, 2021

Fire Risk Assessment – Do I need one?

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Fire risk assessments are simply ‘non-negotiable’. They are something you or the ‘responsible person’ in your organisation must carry out. So, how do you know for sure if Fire Risk Assessments do apply to you and your organisation? That’s easy. Are you responsible for:

  • Offices or shops?
  • Premises that provide care, including care homes and hospitals?
  • Community halls, places of worship and other community premises?
  • Pubs, clubs or restaurants?
  • Schools or sports centres?
  • Tents or marquees?
  • Hotels or hostels?
  • Factories or warehouses?

Answer ‘yes’ to any of these, and you must carry out Fire Risk Assessments.

The guidance documents that support fire law recommend a five-stage approach to fire risk assessment.

Step 1 – Hazards

Identify the hazards within your premises including:

  • sources of ignition,
  • sources of fuel
  • any oxidising agents other than air

Step 2 – Who is at risk?

Identify people at risk. This could be employees, visitors or members of the public. You should pay particular attention to people who may be at particular risk such as:

  • people working near to fire hazards
  • lone workers
  • children
  • parents with babies
  • the elderly
  • the infirm
  • people with disabilities
  • anyone who may need special help

Step 3 – Evaluate the level of risk

You should remove or reduce fire hazards where possible. The residual risk should be minimised.

You need to look at –

  • Means of detecting fire and giving warning
  • Fire-fighting, including first-aid and summoning the fire and rescue service
  • Escape routes including fire exits, emergency lighting and escape route signs
  • Training for your staff
  • Information on fire safety for anyone who may need it (e.g. staff and visitors)
  • A management system to make sure that your fire precautions, including your risk assessment, remain effective

Step 4 – Record, plan, instruct, inform and train

You should:

  • Record the findings from the fire risk assessment, as well as the fire safety measures you have taken and are going to take
  • If you haven’t already got one, make an emergency plan, tailored to your premises
  • Give staff, and occasionally others, such as hotel guests or volunteer stewards, information
  • Provide employees* training about the risks, the actions they should take to prevent fires and how to respond to fire if it occurs. Some, such as fire marshals, will need more training

*This includes full time, part-time, temporary and unpaid employees.

Step 5 – Review your fire-risk assessment to ensure it’s up to date

You will need to re-examine your fire-risk assessment if you suspect it is no longer valid, such as after a near miss, or if there is a significant change such as a change of processes, occupants, or the layout of the building.

Who enforces Fire Safety Law?

Fire authorities are the main agency responsible for enforcing the law. They will look into complaints, carry out investigations after fires and carry out targeted inspections. Where poor fire safety management is discovered, they may prosecute.

If there’s a serious risk to life, the fire authority can issue a notice preventing the premises being used for certain activities, or preventing people from using all or part of the premises.


You’ll find plenty of official guidance here:

England and Wales


Northern Ireland

FIA Best Practice Guide

But, of course, as Fire Safety specialists, we’re always just a phone call away. So, for any questions at all, do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.