Social Housing Fire Risk Assessment

Key Topics Covered:


Part 7: How Fire Risk Assessment Differs by Sector

Fire Risk Assessments are not all the same! Different sectors will find that their assessments will look at the job from different angles for different reasons. Whilst in retail you would always look to evacuate immediately, using staff to act as fire wardens to ensure the premises are empty, in social housing a stay put policy may be more suitable, leaving people in the building during the fire. This is often the safest approach for them.

In commercial premises, such as manufacturing or chemical production plants, there may be an emergency response team that reacts to the alarm and actually goes to deal with the fire, whereas the majority of staff in other UK businesses will only concern themselves with escaping from the fire.

Some fire risk assessments will look like war and peace, others for smaller properties with less risk will be considerably shorter. There is no need to fill reports out with padding to make them look good; stick to facts, nothing more.


Part 6: Actioning the Significant Findings

Once your fire risk assessments have been completed, you have now got the job half done; good work and pat yourself on the back. The next part of completing your fire risk assessment is to have the significant findings actioned.

Significant findings are the issues that your fire risk assessor, using a risk based approach, felt in their professional opinion required attention. Hopefully your reports will detail both what the problem is and how to rectify that problem. If you are not sure then always talk to your fire risk assessor.

Your significant findings may be a few, or you may have a lot. You need to look at them, decide how serious the threat to life is and the affordability and ease of rectifying the problems. This again is a risk based approach. If you have hundreds of assessments then you can look at the significant findings in their entirety to produce a strategic plan of action.

Whilst getting quotes for work is good practice, look for recommended companies to help you, otherwise you can be in a bit of a lottery in terms of the standard of work. Once again your fire risk assessor can help with both recommending good suppliers and developing a strategic plan for multiple building significant findings.


Part 5: Understanding a Fire Risk Assessment report

Getting your fire risk assessment completed is only half the battle!

Having had it completed, you now have to do something about it. This comes in the form of significant findings, these are the bits that might not be right and need addressing.

They will also come with a timescale, which gives you your action plan. The action plan is a guide and does not need to be stuck to like glue. Ideally, your provider will send you a report that tells you what is wrong and how to put it right. You can then prioritise this in the normal way you would any work and schedule any remedial works and repairs in.

As you rectify and complete the various significant findings you should sign them off on your fire risk assessment, this way you can visually demonstrate that you are following the plan.

Multiple Properties

If you have multiple properties, managing a thousand fire risk assessments and the thousands of significant findings it will throw up is a slightly different matter.

Here it is important that you understand how you will be interacting with your reports when they arrive before you undertake the assessments

How you expect to extract the information from the report and what information you want to extract is crucial. By working on this with your supplier before you start, it will give you a greater chance of success in dealing with your reports.


Part 4: Indication of cost and budget

When considering undertaking a fire risk assessment, one of the first questions that comes to mind is "how much is this going to cost me". And rightly so.

This edition outlines the costs you would reasonably expect to pay for assessments on properties. Before we do, there are two main factors to consider before you buy.

Are you hiring a one-man-band, an assessor who works for himself, or are you employing a company that provides fire risk assessment? Obviously a company will be more expensive (in most cases), however they have the infrastructure and a support network behind each assessor for peace of mind.

How many properties do you have? If you have multiple properties, or thousands of properties, then the costs can come down dramatically with efficiency savings.

Below are some sample prices for a company to provide a one-off fire risk assessment:


Part 3: Accreditation and working with compliance teams

Fire Safety Compliance

Having a fire risk assessor undertake your assessments is half the battle, but where do they get their technical support from? Do they have a technical manager to support them? If they don’t do they need one? If they say they don’t need one, are you happy with the views of one person for all your properties?

The major benefit of a dedicated Compliance Team sat at desks is that it serves as a central point of contact for clients and assessors for advice and guidance on technical matters and the application of practical resolutions to fire safety issues within buildings.

The central point of contact also means there is continuity in the advice given relating to the application of guidance documents to different types of buildings. The support offered by this provision is available to fire risk assessors and building managers alike.

The compliance team also ensure that all reports are audited, to ensure a consistent standard of work in line with customer needs, prior to any report being presented to a client.

Accreditation

At present there are a few third party accreditation bodies that are vying for premier position. Whilst this situation will take time to settle down, working with companies that are committed in the area of third party accreditation to provide fire risk assessments is far better for you than dealing with those with no intentions.

Third party accreditation is about looking at a particular company's quality and competence management, not their individual fire risk assessors. Fire Risk Assessors approved by trade bodies alone will always be unable to demonstrate competence and quality to a client. Safety Management (UK) is currently undertaking the accreditation for the BAFE SP 205 Scheme to become a certified Fire Risk Assessment provider.


Part 2: Guidance & terminology explained

When conducting a fire risk assessment, the first question an assessor should be asking themselves is "which guidance documents do I use?" There are plenty to choose from, however these are a few of the more important guidance documents you need to consult with:

Remember, these are the starting point for your assessors to integrate with before and during conducting their assessments.  A few more questions that may be worth confirming for your own peace of mind are;

Have you made sure that your fire risk assessors have access to these documents?  

Have your fire risk assessors read these documents before and not only understand their contents, but also understand how to interpret them for your organisation?

Terminology

Terminology in fire safety is like most professions, it may as well be Double-Dutch if you don't know it already. You can view the full list of terms here...


Part 1: Practical guide

As the largest provider of Fire Risk Assessments in the UK, it's fair to say we've learned a thing or two over the past few years. One of the areas we specialise in is social housing, so we've put together a short guide to cover some of the basic issues that often crop up. It's free of charge and we will be releasing a new one each week.

Here's a short case study

Working with one of the largest housing associations in the UK, we were required to provide fire risk assessments for the common areas of the housing stock spread around England. Given the volume of the work (measured in the thousands) and tight time deadlines, the project had no margin for error. It involved helping the client work (and in some cases negotiate) with the enforcing authorities, as we prioritised and delivered the assessments on their stock.

Up-front planning is key to the entire process. We understand the significant issues that can occur on these large projects; doing the fire risk assessment is the easy part! Issues included: understanding the client's Fire Safety Policy and helping them put this in place; how the client interacted with their fire risk assessments once they were completed; and how the client planned to deal with the significant findings. These were all critical to the success of the programme.

We worked closely with the client's in-house fire safety team before and throughout the process, which benefited both parties significantly. So the end result - eight projects successfully delivered that have ranged between 300 and 1,100 fire risk assessment in total in the last year alone.

Call 01524 784356 to book your fire risk assessment today!

To discuss your requirements, or if you don't see what you are looking for, call +44 (0)1524 784356. Alternatively you can use our contact form or e-mail us

  

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