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The 9 key steps in carrying out Fire Risk Assessments

1)The first step is to obtain relevant information about the building, the processes carried out in the building, and about the occupants of the building. Information about previous fires is also of value, particularly where the organisation has multiple sites with common operations. Much of the relevant information will usually be obtained by interviewing a relevant representative(s) of the management, prior to carrying out a physical inspection of the building.

2) The second step is fire hazard identification and the determination of measures for the elimination or control of the identified fire hazards. This will normally involve a combination of interviewing the management and inspection of the building.

3) The third step is to make a (subjective) assessment of the likelihood of fire. This will be based primarily on the findings of step two, however, the assessment of the likelihood of fire will also take into account any relevant information obtained in step one.

4) The fourth step is to determine the physical fire protection measures relevant to protection of people in the event of fire. The relevant information can, again, can be obtained partly from the initial discussion with management, but will, primarily, be obtained by inspection of the building, so that the standard of fire protection can be determined.

5) The fifth step is to determine relevant information about fire safety management this will, primarily, involve discussion with management, but might also involve examination of documentation, such as records of testing, maintenance, training, drills etc.

6) The sixth step is to make a (subjective) assessment of the likely consequences to occupants in the event of fire. This assessment need to take account of the fire risk assessor`s opinion of the likelihood of various fire scenarios, the extent of injury that could occur to occupants in these scenarios, and the number of people affected. This assessment is principally based on the fire risk assessor`s findings in steps four and five, but will also take account of information obtained in the first step.

7) The seventh step is to make an assessment of the fire risk and to decide if the fire risk is tolerable. The fire risk is assessed by combining the likelihood of fire and the consequences of fire.

8) The eighth step is to formulate an action plan, this is necessary to address shortcomings in fire precautions in order to reduce the fire risk. Even if fire risk is assessed as tolerable, there might be a need for minor improvements in fire precautions, for formulation of an action plan.

9) Thereafter, in the ninth step, the fire risk assessment is subject to periodic review. Review of the fire risk assessment is necessary after a period of time defined in the fire risk assessment, or at an earlier time if changes take place, or if there are other reasons to suspect that the fire risk assessment is no longer valid.

The nine steps set out above, while in a logical, structured order, are not necessarily set out in the chronological order in which the steps are carried out on site. For example, some information relevant to control of fire hazards, the determination of fire protection measures and the management of fire safety is normally most appropriately obtained in a single meeting that is held prior to inspection of the building.

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