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Fire risk assessment

A fire risk assessment is an evaluation of the premises identifying hazards or potential hazards and determining the likelihood (risk) that such hazards will cause harm.

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is an evaluation of the premises identifying hazards or potential hazards and determining the likelihood (risk) that such hazards will cause harm.

Employers and self-employed people must carry out or appoint a competent person to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment of the risks of fire to their employees and others who may be affected by their work or business.

Employers and the self-employed are expected to take reasonable steps to help themselves identify fire risks, e.g. by looking at appropriate sources of information such as legislation, and codes of practice or by reference to a competent individual.

For small premises presenting a few hazards, carrying out a simple fire risk assessment with some common sense risk controls can be a really straightforward process.

For medium sized premises, such as those buildings with more than the ground floor or having more than one staircase or multiple exits, the fire risk assessment will need to be more detailed. Some areas of the assessment may require specialist advice such as in a particularly complicated building.

Large and complex premises will require the most developed and sophisticated fire risk assessments, particularly where fire engineering designs have been developed to overcome difficult fire safety issues. Any fire risk assessment should be suitable and sufficient in the opinion of the Fire Authority.

Fire risk assessments must also consider all those who might be affected by the undertaking whether they are employees or others such as contractors working on site or members of the public. Particular attention should be given to those individuals who are especially vulnerable, such as young persons, the elderly or those with disabilities.

What you need to do

Fire safety law requires the responsible person to ensure your premises are safe in the event of a fire by; reducing the risk of a fire occurring and ensuring your premises can be safely evacuated in the event of a fire. This is achieved by the responsible person carrying out a fire risk assessment. The Fire Safety Order applies to virtually all premises (apart from single private dwellings).

You can do the fire risk assessment yourself with the help of standard fire safety risk assessment guides.
If you do not have the expertise or time to do the fire risk assessment yourself you need to appoint a ‘competent person’ to help, for example, a professional risk assessor.

Step one - You will need to identify

What may cause a fire within your premises:

  • Naked Flames
  • Heaters
  • Electric Equipment

Sources of fuel within your premises:

  • Built Up Waste
  • Display Materials
  • Textiles
  • Paper Products

Step two - Identify people at risk

This includes the following:

  • Employees
  • Visitors
  • Customers
  • Contractors

Step three - evaluate, remove, reduce and protect

Remove/reduce any fire hazards that are fire risk identified:

  • Keep ignition sources away from combustible materials
  • Reduce quantities of stored combustibles.

Ensure adequate fire precautions are in place:

  • Safe routes of exit in the event of a fire
  • Means of raising the alarm in the event of a fire
  • Suitable fire extinguishers/fire signage

Step four - record, plan and train

Record the dangers and people you have identified as being at risk (significant findings).

  • Record what you did about the significant findings.
  • Make an emergency plan.
  • Provide training.

Step five - review and revise

  • Make sure the fire risk assessment is up to date.
  • Revise when changes to risk or circumstances are identified.

These are the principles of a fire risk assessment.

Fire safety risk assessment: 5-step checklist

Identifying which type of premises you have

If you know which type of premises you have you can select it directly from the options below. If you are unsure start at the top and read through the premises descriptions provided below.

Small premises

You must now record the fire risk assessment in full (including all the findings) and the fire safety arrangements for your premises in all circumstances.

You should make available as much information as possible about fire safety in your premises. This new requirement replaces the previous requirement to record only the significant findings of the risk assessment.

Making your small block of flats safe from fire

Making your small paying guest accommodation safe from fire

Making your small non-domestic premises safe from fire

Small to medium size premises

The fire risk assessment and fire safety arrangements for your premises must be recorded.

Medium to large and/or more complex premises

People responsible for medium to large premises are advised to consult the full suite of guidance documents. 

If you feel you need a Fire Risk Assessor, please visit the fire risk assessors page. 

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service is able to offer advice and guidance to enable your business to comply with the requirements of the fire safety law.

You can contact your local area office using the details given on the contact us page.

Risk assessment guide library

Factories and Warehouses

ISBN: 978 1 85112 816 7
Factories and warehouse premises.
Download guide

Sleeping Accomodation

ISBN: 978 1 85112 817 4
All premises where the main use is to provide sleeping accommodation, for example, hotels, guest houses, B&Bs, hostels, residential training centres, holiday accommodation and the common areas of flats, maisonettes, HMOs and sheltered housing (other than those providing care - see Residential care premises), but excluding hospitals, residential care premises, places of custody and single private dwellings.
Download guide

Residential Care Premises

ISBN: 978 1 85112 818 1
Residential care and nursing homes, common areas of sheltered housing (where care is provided) and similar premises, which are permanently staffed and where the primary use is the provision of care rather than healthcare (see Healthcare premises).
Download guide

Educational Premises

ISBN: 978 1 85112 819 8
Teaching establishments ranging from pre-school through to universities, except the residential parts (see Sleeping accommodation).
Download guide

Small and Medium Places of Assembly

ISBN: 978 1 85112 820 4
Smaller public houses, clubs, restaurants and cafés, village halls, community centres, libraries, marquees, churches and other places of worship or study accommodating up to 300 people.
Download guide

Large Places of Assembly

ISBN: 978 1 85112 821 1
Larger premises where more than 300 people could gather, such as shopping centres (not the individual shops), large nightclubs and pubs, exhibition and conference centres, sports stadia, marquees, museums, libraries, churches, cathedrals and other places of worship or study.
Download guide

Theatre, Cinemas and Similar Premises

ISBN: 978 1 85112 822 8
Theatres, cinemas, concert halls and similar premises used primarily for this purpose.
Download guide

Open Air Events and Venues

ISBN: 978 1 85112 823 5
Open air events, for example, theme parks, zoos, music concerts, sporting events (not stadia - see Large places of assembly), fairgrounds and county fairs.
Download guide

Healthcare Premises

ISBN: 978 1 85112 824 2
Premises where the primary use is the provision of healthcare (including private), such as hospitals, doctors' surgeries, dentists and other similar healthcare premises.
Download guide

Animal Premises and Stables

ISBN: 978 1 85112 884 6
Equine and agricultural premises, or any other premises housing horses and other large animals.
Download guide

Transport Premises and Facilities

ISBN: 978 1 85112 825 9
Transportation terminals and interchanges, for example, airports, railway stations (including sub-surface), transport tunnels, ports, bus and coach stations and similar premises but excluding the means of transport (e.g. trains, buses, planes and ships).
Download guide

Means of Escape for Disabled People

ISBN: 978 1 85112 873 7
This guide is a supplement to be read alongside other guides in this series. It provides additional information on accessibility and means of escape for disabled people.
Download guide

Offices and Shops

Download guide

Useful downloads:

Questions about my fire risk assessment

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I have a fire that enough?

Fire certificates held under The Fire Precautions Act 1971 were repealed by Fire Safety Order on the 1st October 2006 giving any Fire Certificate previously issued no legal status. However, much of the information and any plan drawings provided may be of assistance in completing the Fire Risk Assessment.

Is the Assessment a one-off process?

No. The assessment must be regularly reviewed and amended as necessary to meet any changing circumstances identified. The Order states that the assessment should be "reviewed regularly and kept up to date...particularly if there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid or there have been significant changes in the matters to which it relates" (Article 9 (3)).

However, no specific time scales are given. It is widely accepted that a review of the fire risk assessment is conducted at least every 12 months.

What happens if I share my premises with others?

If you share a building with others, you will need to co-ordinate your risk management plan with them. If your plan changes as a result of a review or changes you made to your premises over time, you will need to share the revised risk management plan with others who share the premises.

Will the Fire and Rescue Service inspect my premises?

Fire Authorities have the power to inspect your premises to check that you are complying with your duties under the Fire Safety Order. They will look for evidence that you have carried out a suitable fire risk assessment and acted upon the significant findings of that assessment, they may also wish to see a copy of the assessment.

What happens if I don't comply with the Fire Safety Order, or conduct a Fire Risk Assessment?

For most premises, the Fire Authority are the enforcing authority for the Fire Safety Order. A Fire Inspector will expect to see a copy of your Fire Risk Assessment when they audit your premises. Failure to comply with Articles 8-22 of the Fire Safety Order could result in an Enforcement Notice (Article 30), or a immediate Prohibition Notice (Article 31) being served, which in turn may result in Prosecution of the responsible person(s).

Am I responsible if my fire safety equipment fails?

Yes, you are responsible for maintaining all measures provided for ensuring fire safety of persons in case of fire.

Once I've carried out my fire risk assessment, who should I show it too?

You should consult with your employees about the findings of your fire risk assessment and provide adequate fire safety training for staff where identified. A Fire Inspector, authorised by the Fire Authority, may ask to see your fire risk assessment, but there is no requirement to send it to them without request. Other relevant authorities such as Building Control Bodies, Environmental Health or Licensing Officers from the Local Authority may ask to see your fire risk assessment as part of their work or any respective Licensing process.

Register of Fire Risk Assessors

The law requires that the Responsible Person carries out a fire risk assessment that is "suitable and sufficient". Many people are able to do their own assessment but others may need the help of a competent risk assessor

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service recommend that you consider someone competent with third party accreditation or from a professional register such as: