Along with the many other responsibilities of a landlord, there exist some very specific legal obligations in regard to the safety of property and human life residing within their premises. This is not as simple as making sure there is a fire extinguisher on hand in the vicinity or putting up a few emergency exit signs, although both of these actions are very important.
The responsibility of conducting a thorough fire risk assessment involves much more than just this. Different style buildings as well as the presence of a single tenant, a small population of tenants or any commercial venues create different potential threats that must be addressed appropriately.
Fire risk assessments should be carried out by qualified and competent fire risk assessors, please watch the video below the UK’s number 1 network of fire risk assessors, the Fire Risk Assessment Network.
The law requires that a risk assessment be conducted to identify fire risks, decide who or what is at most risk and take any required actions to reduce or eliminate the risk.
Fire Risk Assessment: Objectives and Aims
It is imperative that all landlords conduct a fire risk assessment for each property they own. There is not one particular system or method that is mandatory, the objectives of your fire risk assessment must be met however. It is more important to achieve a satisfactory outcome than follow a procedure.
The objectives of your fire risk assessment are to
identify and evaluate all fire risks hazardous to “relevant people”
create a fire risk assessment that is both suitable and sufficient.
Although “sufficient” and “suitable” are terms subject to definition, “relevant persons” refers to people who can be expected to be in or around the premises; eg. tenants, visitors, staff, etc.
Because this can be a very different situation depending on the building type, location and many other factors it is vital that landlords consider their specific situation and develop a customized assessment that adheres to the general aim and objectives of the fire risk assessment.
The general aim of your fire risk assessment is to effectively reduce the risk of fires, eliminate the possibility of fires spreading and make sure all occupant of the premises have a means of escaping any fire hazard. There are many templates available online to give you some helpful guidelines.
Contents of the Fire Risk Assessment
The person responsible for conducting the fire risk assessment, this can be the landlord or another appointed person, must carry out the fire risk assessment. Although these must be tailored to each situation; following are 5 standard steps each risk assessment must cover:
1. Identify Fire Hazards
This means performing a thorough investigation of the premises locating all sources of ignition, combustible materials or oxygen.
2. Identify People at Risk
Identify which people are at risk from any of the fire hazards as well as those who could possibly be in greater danger than others.
3. Evaluate the Risks and Protect the People
Armed with the information acquired in steps one and two, evaluate the risks in relation to the people they jeopardize. Using this evaluation, begin removing and reducing the risks in order to protect those in danger from fire.
4. Plan, Record, Inform and Train
Make a record of the most important points your assessment has revealed so far then formulate a contingency plan that would be most effective in containing the fire, if possible, and evacuating people in danger.
Inform all relevant people of this plan and instruct them in emergency procedures. Provide training in special procedures, eg. using fire extinguisher, emergency chutes etc.
Regularly review your assessment, contingency plans and premises for any new additions to enhance safety procedures or perhaps any new risks that were not present during the original assessment. Make adjustments, notifications and changes as propriety demands.
As a landlord it is your business to protect your tenants as well as your property from damage by fire. This is a subjective job due to the many different building types, varying amounts of relevant people to be protected and many other particulars to numerous to list here.
In order to ensure the safety of your properties and any relevant people it is necessary, and also a legal obligation, to conduct a proper fire safety assessment based on standard objectives and aims. Proper evaluation of all fire risks and relevant people at risk and executing an appropriate response is the best way to prevent loss of life, limb and property.