A fire risk assessment is important for creating a safe environment in flats and apartment buildings, especially high-rise buildings and tower blocks. They are central in developing and maintaining your building’s fire safety plans and ensuring that you not only minimise fire risks but are also not held legally liable in the event of a fire. In this article, we look at why these assessments matter alongside legal guidelines, key responsibilities and assessment criteria.
Are fire risk assessments a legal requirement for flats?
In England and Wales, a fire safety assessment is required by law through the Fire Safety Order (2005) for all blocks of flats and houses with multiple occupants. This should be carried out by a professional service to ensure that the building is fully compliant and safeguarded against fire risks.
Who is responsible for carrying out a fire risk assessment?
If you own a block of flats or apartments, it is your responsibility to have the assessment performed and kept up to date, and to ensure that appropriate measures are implemented in line with the assessment’s findings.
While this process can be carried out by building owners, it is highly recommended that you utilise a professional service for their expertise and guidance. This is not only advisable because they are better able to recommend remedial actions but also because, as the legally responsible person, you will be held liable if the FRA is deemed to be non-compliant or negligent.
What is reviewed during a flat fire risk assessment?
The first aspect of an FRA is how likely it is that a fire will start as well as the level of risk and what is required to reduce the likelihood of severe fire damage. This involves scrutinising sources of ignition as well as potential accelerants such as fuel and oxygen sources.
The FRA will then cover all areas of the building including but not limited to shared areas of the building such as stairwells, staircases, and entrance halls, as well as fire doors and fire suppression systems. The assessor will follow a fire risk assessment template for residential flats and apply their specialist knowledge to identify risks and hazards, as well as make recommendations so that buildings comply with fire safety standards.
As part of the FRA, the assessor will also evaluate the building’s construction and layout, as well as how the building is used and the number of occupants. It will also need to identify whether there are vulnerable people in the building such as the elderly, people with disabilities, and young children. This is an important consideration as these residents may be unable to exit the building safely. Please note that there are special fire protection requirements for high-rise buildings.
The assessment also incorporates whether appropriate staff are adequately trained in fire safety and risk management, as well as the presence of any critical escape rooms. Finally, fire prevention standards (e.g. the storage of flammable materials) will also be examined to confirm that they comply with recommended best practices.
How often must flats be assessed for fire risks?
There are no specific time periods for how often an FRA must be completed or reviewed on flats, although the law states it needs to be done “regularly”. Normally the FRA will provide the client with a recommended reassessment date dependent on the risk profile of the building. We recommend that an FRA is performed if:
- There has been a fire in the shared portion of the building
- There has been significant construction on the building
- You are a new owner unable to source a previous FRA
- There are more people using the building since the last assessment was completed
If you are unsure if you need to have an FRA carried out in your block of flats, we recommend contacting a specialist provider to find out if you require assistance.
CLM Fireproofing are the UK’s leading experts in passive fire protection for residential and commercial buildings, including high-rise buildings. We have a proven track record of working with local housing authorities, providing market-leading passive fire protection solutions and fire risk surveys to minimise fire risks and ensure compliance.
CLM Fireproofing also provides expert fire remediation services to repair fire damage and implement effective fireproofing to optimise properties against future fire damage. To speak to one of our passive fire protection specialists, contact us today.