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All businesses must undertake a fire risk assessment. This includes anyone that has paying guests, including bed & breakfasts, guesthouses or self-catering property lets. If a business has five or more employees, or a licence, they must keep a written record of their risk assessment.

Who is the Responsible Person?

The Responsible Person is the employer, business owner, landlord, occupier or anyone else with control of the premises such as a building manager or managing agent.

If the Responsible Person does not have the time or expertise to do a fire risk assessment, they can appoint a Competent Person in their place, such as a professional risk assessor.

What are the duties of the Responsible Person?

The Responsible Person must carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises. If he or she identifies any risks, they must inform all staff and ensure they put in place appropriate fire safety measures. They also need an emergency plan, and to provide fire instruction and training to all staff.

Step-by-step assessment guide

1. Identify fire hazards

How could a fire start and what could burn? Keep sources of ignition and fuel apart. If a fire does break out, what measures are in place to keep it contained so it doesn’t spread rapidly, putting people at risk? Make sure fire doors are not wedged or propped open as they need to be closed to prevent fire spreading.

2. Identify anyone at risk

Everyone is at risk of fire, though some are more at risk than others such as visitors to the building that don’t know the evacuation procedure. Think about people for whom evacuation could be more difficult, such as elderly or disabled people. Make sure your fire safety and evacuation plan is tailored for each individual’s requirements. Let visitors know what to do if the fire alarm sounds.

3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risk

Evaluate what you’ve learned in steps 1 and 2, what are the risks of a fire starting and what are the risks to people in the building. Remove and reduce risks — how can you avoid accidental fires? Take action to protect everyone in the building from fire.

4. Record findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training

Keep a record of hazards and how you’ve reduced them. The government has a five-step checklist.

You can download your own copy here

5. Regularly revisit the fire risk assessment in case it needs updating

Always keep your risk assessment under review. If anything changes, ensure you make a note of it in your plan, tell others that share the premises and re-train staff if necessary.

You can download guides to fire risk assessments in different types of premises here

For more detailed information on evacuation plans, equipment, fire drills and potential penalties, visit the government’s fire safety website.


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