If you are responsible for a church building, it is important to do all you can to reduce the risk of fire to keep people safe. It saves lives and it is your legal duty.
What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
A Fire Risk Assessment involves a careful look at your church premises and the people who use them, from a fire prevention perspective. It is about understanding the potential risks, then improving your fire safety precautions to keep people safe.
Why do it?
A Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) is a legal requirement. If you are responsible for a building, for example as an employer, owner or occupier of premises that are not 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.
Did you know?
Your local fire and rescue authority visits premises to check the fire risk assessment and fire prevention measures are appropriate. Fire safety officers should help you understand the rules and comply with them. They can also take action if they think your fire safety measures are not adequate. If there is a fire and you have not met your legal duties to keep people safe, you could be fined.
How to do a Fire Risk Assessment
Broadly speaking, assessments are conducted in five key steps (see image).
Can I do it myself?
Doing the assessment in house has the advantage of ensuring that you own and understand the precautions you need to take to protect people adequately. You need, however, to know your limits.
If, having read the government guidance , you do not feel you have the appropriate knowledge or understanding of fire safety to comply with the legislative requirements; or, that you do not have the time, you will need to appoint a specialist to carry out the risk assessment for you.
Appointing a specialist
In most cases, the company that maintains your fire extinguishers, alarm or smoke detection systems should be able to assist you. Alternatively, BAFE, the independent registration body for third party fire protection companies, has a list of registered suppliers on their website.
How often should it be reviewed?
The legislation covering FRAs does not set down the frequency of review. The important thing is that it is up to date. In the event there is a change in circumstances at the property or your activities, then it would be appropriate to review the FRA at that point. Advice from third-party specialists suggests that reviewing the FRA annually would ensure that people remain mindful of its provisions.
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