Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service

Fire Risk Assessments

If you’re responsible for a building, it’s important to do all you can to reduce the risk of fire to keep people safe. It saves lives, it’s your legal duty, and it makes good business sense.

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

A careful look at your premises and the people who use them, from a fire prevention perspective. It’s about understanding the potential risks, then improving your fire safety precautions to keep people safe.

Why do it?

A Fire Risk Assessment is a legal requirement. If you are responsible for a building, for example a employer, owner or occupier of premises that aren’t a ‘single private dwelling’ (a private home), you need to make sure a suitably competent person completes a Fire Risk Assessment. It is your duty to identify fire risks and hazards in your premises and take appropriate action.

In addition, if five or more people work at your premises or your business has a licence under enactment in force, you’ll need your fire risk assessment to be a written record. Make sure you review your risk assessment regularly and whenever significant changes have been made that would have an impact on it. It’s good business sense as well as a legal requirement, often businesses don’t recover after a fire, and effective fire prevention starts with properly understanding the risks.

Did you know?

If there’s a fire and you haven’t met your legal duties to keep people safe, you could be fined and may even spend time in prison.

How to do a Fire Risk Assessment

Broadly speaking, assessments are conducted in five key steps:

  1. Identify the fire hazards.
  2. Identify people at risk.
  3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks.
  4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training.
  5. Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly.

Who checks it?

We do – inspecting premises is part of our duty to keep people safe from fire. If your premises aren’t safe, or you haven’t done an assessment, you may be prosecuted. If we believe people are at risk, we may even have to close your business until you can make it safe for employees and members of the public.

Who should do my Fire Risk Assessment?

It depends on how large or complex your business or organisation is.

Large complex businesses

If your business is larger or more complex, contact an expert to come and help. Our responsibilities lie in making sure you’ve done an appropriate assessment – we don’t provide an assessment service. You’ll need to find a suitably qualified specialist, but there’s a guide to help you at the end of this page.

Small and medium-sized enterprises

If your business or organisation is relatively small and you think your potential risks aren’t complex, it is possible to do it yourself. You can find guides to help you understand what’s required here on the Fire Safety Guides page and we have created a downloadable fire risk assessment template in Microsoft Word to support you.

Where can you get a fire risk assessment template?

At the bottom of the the Fire Safety Guides page there are a range of templates available to assist you which include a:

  • Fire Risk Assessment Template for simple premises; and a
  • Fire Risk Assessment Example for a HMO.

Heritage buildings

If you’re responsible for a museum, gallery or historic building, we strongly recommend that your fire risk assessment is carried out by a Competent Person/Assessor with an understanding of fire safety within heritage buildings, as these buildings have particular risks and limitations.

Can we do your Fire Risk Assessment for you?

Unfortunately not. If you don’t have the expertise – or time – to do the fire risk assessment yourself, appoint a specialist to do it for you.

How can you identify a competent fire risk assessor?

The Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council has published a set of criteria against which the competency of those undertaking fire risk assessments can be judged and a guide to choosing a competent fire risk assessor, which are available here:

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