What is a fire risk assessment?
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In this video module we are going to briefly look at fire risk assessments, what they are and what they entail.
UK and Irish legislation requires that businesses reduce as far as is practical the risk of fires ever occurring and ensure that occupants will be able to escape safely if a fire does occur.
Therefore, regular structured assessments of fire risk in a building must be undertaken.
These assessments must ensure that any means of escape is not compromised by deficient passive fire protection and that the spread of fire and smoke is restricted.
To be able to decide on an appropriate level of passive fire protection an assessor must familiarise himself with the building layout and escape routes.
If the building is relatively new, a fire strategy document may exist, and the information in it may be used in conjunction with the building drawings as a basis for an
The assessor should check that the passive fire protection complies with the documentation and recorded accordingly.
In many cases that will be all the assessor needs to do. In older buildings, however the type of construction and materials used may not perform to current fire test standards and may not be adequate.
Changes of occupier or refurbishment may also have led to the creation of cavities and voids that may allow fire and smoke to spread unseen.
So for older buildings or those where information is not available, a survey of the building is the only way to determine necessary compartmentation and escape routes.
When evaluating what is needed for occupants to escape safely in the event of a fire, the assessor needs to take into account the occupancy of a building and its use.
For example, is it multiple occupancy, a hotel, an office, a shop or possibly a block of flats. The fire risk assessor must decide what passive fire protection is required and evaluate if existing protection is adequate.
When performing an assessment, the condition of passive fire protection materials used and the operation of any fire-separating elements must be evaluated.
This includes fire doors, air handling, ducting & dampers, escape route, wall, ceiling and floor construction and lining materials on walls and ceilings in escape routes.
Suspended ceiling voids, especially at corridor ends, should be inspected to determine the condition of the fire-resisting construction above.
Particular attention should be paid at fire door positions, to confirm walls above suspended ceilings extend fully to the floor slab above. All services that penetrate walls
ceilings or floors should be checked to ensure that they are suitably fire-stopped, especially if any recent work has been performed.
For raised floor, if possible, floor tiles near the edges of fire-resisting walls should be lifted and a torch used to look for the installation of suitable cavity barriers.
Any faults must always be recorded as part of the assessment report and be remedied as soon as possible.