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Conducting a fire risk assessment

If you're a landlord or have control of commercial property or the shared areas in a residential property, you must carry out a fire risk assessment.
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This is an assessment of the fire safety in the property identifying what fire precautions are required at the property and how fire can be prevented to keep people safe.

The assessment records fire hazards, identifies those at risk and lists ways to reduce the risk of fire. You can refer to the Fire safety risk assessment checklist for more guidance.

If your business has 5 or more people, you will need to keep a written copy of your fire risk assessment.

You must take general fire precautions to make sure people are safe in the property. You must consider emergency exits, fire-fighting equipment, warning systems, fire safety drills and the removal of any flammable substances.

The assessment must include actions to be taken which will reduce the risk of fire at the property. To be effective a fire risk assessment must be kept updated and regularly reviewed. 

A review may be needed if there is a change of use of the property, alterations are carried out to the property or there is an increase in employees at the property.  

England and Wales

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to business premises (ie workplaces) and ‘common parts’ (ie areas for the use of all residents like hallways, staircases and landings) in residential buildings. 

However, the Fire Safety Act 2021, which came into force on 1 October 2021 in Wales (and is expected to come into force in England in the future), has now extended the provisions of the Fire Safety Order to the following parts of multi-occupied residential buildings:

  • the building's structure, external walls and any common parts (the external walls including doors or windows in those walls, and anything attached to the exterior of those walls - eg balconies and cladding)

  • all doors between the domestic premises and common parts

Any existing fire risk assessments will need to be updated to cover the above.

Scotland

In Scotland, fire safety duties for most non-domestic premises are set out in the Fire Scotland (2005) Act and Fire Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

Non-domestic premises are all:

  • workplaces and commercial premises

  • premises the public have access to

  • types of houses in multiple occupation

For more information see the Scottish government's guidance.

Commercial property

You are responsible for fire safety in a business property (or other non-domestic property) if you’re:

  • an employer

  • the owner

  • an occupier

  • the landlord

  • anyone else who has control of the premises (eg a building manager, managing agent or risk assessor)

The person responsible for carrying out the fire risk assessment is known as the ‘responsible person’. Where there is more than one responsible person, you all need to work together to meet your responsibilities.

For more information, read Fire safety in the workplace.

Residential property

This currently only applies in Wales.

You are responsible for fire safety in a multi-occupied residential property if you have control of the premises (eg building owners, leaseholders or managers).

As with commercial property, the person responsible for carrying out the fire risk assessment is known as the ‘responsible person’. Where there is more than one responsible person, you all need to work together to meet your responsibilities.

Under the Fire Safety Act 2021, the responsible person must follow guidance and correctly fulfil their duties, which include:

  • sharing information with their local fire and rescue service regarding the design of their buildings’ external walls and details of the materials of which they are constructed

  • undertaking an annual inspection of individual flat entrance doors

  • undertaking monthly inspections of lifts and report the results to their local fire and rescue service if there are any faults

  • sharing evacuation and fire safety instructions with residents of the building

Your local fire and rescue service will visit to check the fire risk assessment and that it is suitable for the property.

If they decide it is not suitable, they can take action and issue a formal notice suggesting changes to the property to make it safer.

If no fire assessment is carried out then you can be prosecuted for not following fire safety regulations.

The Health and Safety Executive is a great source of practical information and guidance for employers. The Healthy Working Lives is a great source to create your fire risk assessment in Scotland.

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