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Fire Risk Assessment – DIY or Fire Safety Consultant?

Fire Safety Risk Assessment.

No one appreciates more than I do, the hard work, time, and care that goes into producing a high quality Fire Risk Assessment Report for your business premises.

If you are the dutyholder, i.e. the employer, landlord, or any other person who has control of the relevant premises; you are required by law to carry out an assessment of the workplace or, the relevant premises under section 53 or section 54 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 respectively.

The Fire Risk Assessment that is required by law to be carried out may be done so by, a “competent person” who can either be someone within your company, or an outside contractor known as a Fire Risk Assessor. Selecting the right person for the job may not be an easy one as the ‘competent person’ requires to have, sufficient training and experience, knowledge, or other qualities according to the Fire Safety Regulations (Scotland) 2006; Regulation 17(1).

Is your ‘in-house’ Fire Risk Assessor competent?

Unwittingly, some employers have charged their managers with the burden of carrying out this task on their behalf, or, requesting that their company health and safety practitioner is nominated as the fire risk assessor without a moment’s consideration to their competence. In many cases the nominated “competent persons” do not have the correct qualities to carry out the fire safety risk assessment or to see it through to a successful and satisfactory conclusion.

Statistics show that many assessments carried out in Scotland today are inadequate or insufficient in nature where the assessor has failed to identify the fire hazards, properly estimate the probability of ignition or to consider the consequences to life safety of the occupants, should a fire take hold in the premises.

Without having fully identified & assessed, the fire hazards, and consequences to life in the premises, the assessor would be unlikely to come to the correct conclusion of the risk to life within that building.

Indeed even for the seasoned “Safety and Health Expert”, a fire safety risk assessment can be a time consuming, daunting task where the fire safety assessor may not even have the available skills, background, or, experience to properly identify the Significant Findings, or to formulate, prioritise or implement the Action Plan to mitigate, or even to maintain the building at its current fire risk level.

Fire Safety Consultants in Scotland.

Contracting out, or, outsourcing the Fire Risk Assessment, or the Fire Risk Assessment Review contract to a “Fire Safety Company”, or to a Fire Safety Consultant may also have it’s pitfalls as some of our clients have previously found out to their peril, usually when it is only too late and the invoice has been paid.

Scottish Government guidance advises;-

“If you are looking to employ a fire safety specialist, it can be difficult to judge the competence of companies and persons who advertise their services as fire risk assessors. The fact that a person or company is operating in the fire sector or that someone has previous fire service experience, does not mean that they are a fire safety specialist”.

I therefore recommend that before employing the services of a “Fire Safety Consultant” or “Fire Risk Assessor”, ask if they can provide evidence of the following;-

• Are they Properly Qualified for the job such as Nebosh Fire Certificate? Fire Brigade fire-fighter courses or general Health and Safety Practitioner courses are not usually seen as sufficient.

• Are they listed on an Approved Register for Fire Risk Assessors such as the current ones that are maintained by the Institution of Fire Engineers or the Fire Industry Association? This can be easily checked on their websites.

• Do they have proper & Full Professional Indemnity Insurance? Should something go wrong, e.g. wrongful advice, then this insurance is imperative as a redress. Employers and Public liability Insurance is not sufficient in this case.

• Most importantly. Can they provide physical hard evidence of all of the above? No proof – no contract.

It amazes me to this day how retired firemen and health and safety practitioners are managing to hoodwink their clients that they are competent by simply chatting about their life’s experience ‘down at the station’ or ‘what they done on their last job’, without providing a scrap of evidence to their potential customer as proof that they are indeed competent to carry out the task.

If the person you are about to hire does not think that they should produce documentation or provide you with evidence of their competence, then I would have serious reservations about hiring them.

 

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