Managerial Attitudes Towards the Fire Risk Assessment Process

Solutions explore managerial attitudes towards the fire risk assessment process.

Following from last months focus on training for the responsible person and others; we felt it would be pertinent to discuss the instrument that often highlights not only training needs but also offers the foundations for an organisational fire safety strategy.

Our consultants and support staff often encounter an attitude to the Fire Risk Assessment that we believe is all too common, that of 'now its done I can forget about it'. This is most certainly not the case and the increasing number and nature of prosecutions brought to bear after failure to act upon significant findings in the Fire Risk Assessment prove this. The risk assessment is the fulcrum upon which compliance, safety and suitable and sufficient fire safety management balance. It is a document that should be under constant review and provides the sign posts to expedient and efficient organisation. It is not a document that is self contained, it is a document that is the starting point to problem solving, which is why it is often prudent to employ the services of a qualified and committed consultant when first starting the sometimes confusing process of managing your organisations fire safety.

Guidance suggests that there are 5 steps to the fire risk assessment process:
1. Identify fire hazards
2. Identify people at risk
3. Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk
4. Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
5. Review

Each step requires a certain level of knowledge and training to perform, a level which the legislation terms as 'suitable and sufficient'. Whilst this relatively simplistic term might be a reasonable assumption to carry over to the performance of the component steps, the subtleties and vagaries of fire risk and fire safety are myriad and as such need a level of sophistication demanded by other business functions. It would perhaps not be deemed reasonable to expect a human resources manager to implement and manage the logistics of a service and delivery function. An introduction, suitable training and ongoing support might render this task more manageable and it is our contention and we believe a contention of health and safety professionals in general that the same considerations should be afforded to an area which seems constantly to struggle for recognition of its importance at the boardroom table.

It is possible to see the cyclical nature of the process and how one step necessarily feeds into the next. Steps 3 and 4 arguably require the most attention in terms of problem identification and solution and whilst there are publications and guides designed to assist in the entire process (including the Means of Escape Fire safety Audit) the consultation of a professional can prove invaluable. At Solutions at least we believe that after this initial consultation our duty is to empower you to manage the process in-house providing support and guidance where necessary and needed.