A brief explanation of the fire safety responsible person
We all know of the potentially terrible consequences of a fire, both in domestic and business premises. Most business owners and employers are aware that they are responsible, by law, for the safety of the property itself and the people within it. This being the case, every business has a legally ‘responsible person’ who has certain duties and responsibilities to perform – however, they are not always fully aware of what this entails – here is a simple breakdown of those tasks:
Complete fire risk assessments
Every business must carry out a fire risk assessment of their premises. This is to identify potential hazards and risks and, once identified, consider appropriate solutions. The assessment considers aspects such as existing fire precautions – warning and alarm systems, fire-fighting equipment – and whether it is adequate or not.
Any ‘responsible’ person can be appointed to carry out the assessment but, without the proper knowledge and training, may not always be truly effective. The FIA (Fire Industry Association) strongly recommends that a professional fire risk assessor be consulted. They will recognise potential fire hazards and advise on the best ways to minimise these.
Create a fire safety plan of action
Once an assessment is performed, then an appropriate plan of action needs to be produced, covering aspects such as fire detection, fire warning, containment and evacuation procedures. This will consider things like:
• Is the fire-fighting equipment appropriate for the building environment?
• Is the equipment in the most effective locations and accessible?
• Is the equipment maintained and checked on a regular basis?
• Are relevant records kept of maintenance and service?
Again, the FIA strongly advise that a ‘certified third-party fire safety supplier’ be consulted on these issues. This independent third-party certification will guarantee an independent assessment has been performed and the best advice has been taken.
Whilst using quality-assured, third-party services will incur a financial overhead for the business, the potential cost, both financially and otherwise, of NOT performing a detailed and accurate fire risk assessment and, thus implementing the ensuing recommendations, may be far greater. For example, in the event of fire on your premises, any insurance company will investigate the claim and will take into account whether your fire precautions were implemented on expert recommendations or not, and consider that in any settlement.
You should consult your local fire protection officers for a more detailed explanation of these responsibilities and other fire safety issues.