Fire Risk Assessments

Who is responsible for fire risk assessment?

Fire Risk SignsEverybody entering your business premises: employees/staff; contractors/workers; clients/customers; friends & family or other visitors - has a responsibility to ensure fire safety. It is a legal requirement that all businesses must now have a legally-designated "responsible person" who's duty it is to arrange for a fire risk assessment, identify any possible fire risks and deal with them. This law came into force in Northern Ireland in 2008.

In most cases, it wil be obvious who the responsible person should be, although sometimes several people will share responsibility for fire risk assessment - for example in shared premises or larger businesses. The 'responsible person' will be someone who has control over premises, or over some areas, departments or systems.

For example, it could be:

  • an employer with control of a workplace
  • a person with overall management of a building
  • an occupier of a premises, owner of a premises
  • landlords (multi occupied buildings)
  • the owner or manager of a business
  • the owner or managing agent of premises which are shared between a number of businesses
  • individuals within a multiple-occupancy building, such as self-employed people or voluntary organisations if they control someone within the premises

You should establish who the responsible person is within your business or premises. If it is not clear, then your local fire authority will decide who should be responsible for fire risk assessment: Where there is more than one person responsible for a premises they are expected to:

* co-operate with the other responsible persons so far as is necessary to comply with the fire risk regulations
* co-ordinate with the other responsible person's measures required to comply with the fire regulations
* share information with each other

Fire warning notices Fire Risk Assessment - duties of the 'responsible person'

The 'responsible person' is someone who has control, or a degree of control, over premises or fire-prevention systems within premises. As the responsible person, you must ensure that everyone who uses your premises is able to escape if there is a fire.

Your fire risk assessment will need to consider anyone who might be on your premises, including employees, clients/customers, visitors or members of the public. You need to pay particular attention to those who may need special help, such as elderly or disabled people or children.

You must:

  • carry out a risk assessment for fire, identifying all possible dangers and risks
  • think about who might be particularly at risk - e.g. you may have disabled employees, or people who work with hazardous chemicals
  • eliminate the risk from fire, as far as reasonably possible
  • put in place fire precautions to deal with any risks that remain
  • make sure there is adequate protection if you use or store flammable or explosive materials
  • have a plan to deal with emergencies
  • record your findings and review them as and when necessary

If you are the 'responsible person', you must ensure that the fire risk assessment is carried out. You can appoint some other competent person to do the actual assessment, but you are still responsible in law. In many premises achieving fire safety is likely to be a matter of common sense providing the responsible person makes enough time available to go through all the necessary steps.

The enforcing authority, which is usually the local fire authority, must be satisfied with your safety measures.