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Why Fire Risk Assessments are Worth Their Weight in Gold

Ask The Experts | By | 2 Jun 2022 | 5 minute read

Fire risk assessments are critical to organizations today to stay safe, reliable, and sustainable. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and the cost of rebuilding a factory or replacing warehouse inventory is much higher than the cost of prevention.

A fire risk assessment is even more important when considering our current supply chain issues. At the moment, every piece of inventory is crucial to the survival of a business.

How To Maintain Gold Standard with Fire Prevention

Ensure that you have the proper strategy for handling fire hazards by conducting a fire risk assessment. It is an easy and efficient way to assess the conditions and processes that could lead to a fire occurring in your place of work. Eliminate or reduce the risk of a fire through establishing the controls identified in your fire risk assessment.

The 5 Golden Rules For Getting Started with Fire Risk Assessments

Protect your business from potential losses in a fire with these 5 steps:

Step 1: Gather the right team

The team should be composed of individuals that understand fire behavior, the facility, its structure and processes, as well as the fire hazards within the area. Members of the fire risk assessment process team may include the facility manager, insurance risk or safety engineer, fire marshal, fire department, tenured workers, and other safety professionals.

Understanding risk and control is essential to an effective fire risk assessment, which starts with the team performing it.

Step 2: Use the right tool

Understanding what can cause heat, sparks, friction, along with what are the ignition temperatures of materials, fire spread, and fire load, are just some of the basics in fire risk assessment methodology. You need the right tool to ensure elements such as people, places, things (i.e., assets), and processes are being evaluated.

Having a tool that is mobile and allows you to evaluate these aspects will help you create a more comprehensive risk assessment, where pictures paint the overall story and are available to be used as references later on.

Step 3: Perform the assessment

Depending on the size and complexity of the area being assessed, it could take a day or even multiple weeks to complete. With lives and the survival of your business at stake, this process shouldn’t be rushed. All elements need to be thoroughly evaluated and assessed against all known conditions to ensure that the risks are ranked accordingly and adequate controls are put in place.

Step 4: Evaluate the results

Verify that nothing has been missed in the fire risk assessment and that there are no gaps through which a fire hazard could pass by unnoticed. Carefully evaluate the results of the assessment and consider bringing in a “second set of eyes” to validate your findings.

Step 5: Implement control measures

Put the action plan in place and ensure the effectiveness of controls. These controls should adhere to the hierarchy of controls; with elimination, substitution, and engineering controls leading the way. Though your action plan may need capital investment and its implementation timeline could be lengthy, it’s still a crucial part to fire prevention.

However, be aware that you need to track these constraints so that there is accountability and transparency in the implementation of the plan.

Remember, incomplete or inadequate controls will leave your organization at risk of a fire, the cost of which is unknowable until it happens. By then, you will need to do much more to rectify the situation and recover your losses.

Another key factor in preventing fires from occurring is to clearly document and communicate all control measures so that everyone understands their importance and knows what they need to do to fully implement them.

How SafetyCulture Can Help

Having a digital assessment solution, such as SafetyCulture, will allow you to easily reevaluate past assessments using fire risk assessment templates. When fire conditions change, you need to be proactive in checking if controls are still adequate and don’t need to be adjusted or enhanced. You can do this with a fire safety risk assessment checklist from SafetyCulture. 

Your Responsibility as a Leader

As a leader of your organization, it is your responsibility to not only complete a fire risk assessment, but also review assessments annually and refresh people on the current controls.

Don’t forget that staying ahead of a fire is the only place to stay. Relying on luck is a losing battle and may cost you more than inventory, but even lives which cannot be replaced. Therefore, do the right thing by updating and reassessing fire risks regularly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

A fire risk assessment is the assessment of the likelihood and severity that a fire could occur and damage an asset, facility, structure, or area. These assessments are completed to understand the hazards associated with fire and the damage it could cause to people and businesses.

Where Do We Normally See Fire Risk Assessments Completed?

Fire risk assessments could be completed at any workplace or where people or things are stored such as manufacturing facilities, warehouses, oil and gas locations, hotels or housing locations, restaurants, or retail stores, just to name a few.
Anywhere there is a potential for a fire, it is important to conduct a fire risk assessment to ensure the proper controls are in place to prevent the start of the fire and the loss of life or property.

How Often are Fire Risk Assessments Performed?

Fire risk assessments are usually performed prior to occupying the facility or area, anytime the process or stored items changes, and are reevaluated on an annual basis moving forward or as the local area having jurisdiction or company policy dictates.

Who Performs Fire Risk Assessments?

A fire risk assessment could be performed by the facility manager, safety professional, fire department, insurance risk or safety engineer, or fire marshal. It is important that knowledgeable professionals that understand the facility, process, structure, and hazards are incorporated into the fire risk assessment process team.

What are Some of the Outcomes from a Fire Risk Assessment?

Upon completion of a fire risk assessment, the organization will understand where they are most likely to have a fire and to what severity. This will allow the organization to ensure the proper controls are in place to eliminate or minimize these risks that could result in a catastrophic fire with loss of life and/or property.
If the controls are not in place, a corrective action plan should be established and tracked to ensure that controls are effective in managing the fire hazards that were identified.

What is a Fire Risk Assessment Template?

A fire risk assessment template is a documentation tool used by trained safety officials in identifying fire hazards and risks on any site. It assists safety officials as they do a visual check on the site and investigate various areas where fire incidents are more likely to occur. 

A fire risk assessment template usually comprises the following:
• Information about the site or establishment
• List of identified fire hazards in the premises
• The people at risk
• Schedule of next review
• Validation of the report through sign off of the assigned safety official

Fire risk assessment records should be kept up to date so that precautionary measures are adequate at all times. Failure to comply can result in fines, criminal charges, irreparable damage to business assets, or worse, cost lives.

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SafetyCulture staff writer

Gary Bonnett

Important Notice
The information contained in this article is general in nature and you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your specific needs. Legal and other matters referred to in this article are based on our interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied on in place of professional advice. We are not responsible for the content of any site owned by a third party that may be linked to this article. SafetyCulture disclaims all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded) for any error, inaccuracy, or omission from the information contained in this article, any site linked to this article, and any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.