Following the catastrophic Grenfell Tower fire, many people are asking tough questions about the effectiveness of fire risk assessments.
The BBC has reported, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, that many local councils’ fire risk assessments (FRAs) do not consider things such as external cladding, which was the cause of the Grenfell Tower blaze spreading.
If fire risk assessments are to be more than a box-ticking exercise, should fire risk assessors be doing more? Should they reassess fire risk
Deficiencies in High Rise FRAs
While councils have been conducting FRAs across the country resulting from the Grenfell fire, there are concerns that these are missing essential elements.
High rise FRAs typically do not examine individual properties, nor do they look at how a building was originally designed for evacuation.
Other factors high rise FRAs should now consider are: how many people occupy the building, either living or working in it; whether there are old, high-risk household appliances in use in it; and whether residents have altered the interiors of flats in any way, such as removing fire doors.
FRAs for high rises should also look at how quickly residents would be able to leave their homes in the event of a fire.
In short, FRAs must be about more than compliance.
An Honest Approach
Fire risk assessments are designed to reduce the probability of a fire starting by identifying potential hazards and fire risks.
They should examine the structure of the building itself, and its contents, its layout and its use – because the use will affect the fire risk.
An FRA should look at how many people occupy the building, and how they will escape in the event of a fire.
It is crucial that once an organisation or business, or home has had an FRA it acts on it. Because having a fire risk assessment is mandatory, there can be the temptation to treat it as something to be done and got over, ignoring the outcome.
Anyone commissioning an FRA should have an honest approach to its findings, and take any necessary action to reduce fire risk.
Any strategy, policy or procedure that includes fire risk assessments, must have a practical outcome.
This is the key to ensuring that fire risk assessments are truly effective.
Don’t Risk It
Are you satisfied with your safety? Are you doing enough to keep the occupants of your premises safe? Contact Comply at Work and make sure you’re managing your fire risk.