How often should a fire risk assessment be reviewed?

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is the legally required process that identifies the building/premises’ potential risk of fire and makes recommendations on how these risks can be reduced or mitigated in order to ensure that people using the building are safe from the effects of fire.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 as amended by the Fire Safety Act 2021 requires a fire risk assessment to be carried out for almost all non-domestic and some types of domestic properties. A fire risk assessment is also required for communal areas of blocks of flats to include the external walls and fire resisting doorsets as well as the means of escape.

It is the responsibility of the appointed ‘Responsible Person’ or, in Scotland the ‘Duty Holder’ to ensure that the assessment is suitable and sufficient, and undertaken by a suitably competent person.

As of 1 October 2023, the Building Safety Act 2022 came into effect with Section 156 amending the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, setting the requirement for all fire risk assessments and their findings to be recorded, irrespective of the number of employees or whether there is a licence in force.

The regular completion of a comprehensive fire risk assessment allows the property owner or managing agent to understand the potential fire hazards and take appropriate action.

How often should a fire risk assessment be reviewed?

It is a legal requirement, as set out in article 9 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 that assessments should be reviewed as follows:

(3) Any such assessment must be reviewed by the Responsible Person regularly so as to keep it up to date and particularly if—

  • (a) there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid; or
  • (b) there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates including when the premises, special, technical and organisational measures, or organisation of the work undergo significant changes, extensions, or conversions.

This indicates that if any significant changes are made to a premise, whether or not they increase the potential risk of fire, an updated fire risk assessment will need to be conducted. This could include not only structural changes to the building, but also changes to the activities undertaken, a change of use, or a change in the type of people/occupancy using the building.

What is involved in a fire risk assessment?

The completion of a fire risk assessment meticulously details the property and the level of fire risk within it and must be carried out by a competent person. The aim of the audit is to identify weaknesses in your fire safety measures that you may be unaware of and provide any recommendations to reduce your building and its occupants’ vulnerability to fire. This ensures there are adequate fire safety measures and equipment in place, such as a suitable evacuation strategy, escape routes, adequate compartmentation, suitable fire alarms, emergency lighting, and means of firefighting such as portable fire extinguishers.

The assessment often includes a 5-stage review, from identifying the fire hazards and making recommendations on fire evacuation procedures, to providing guidance on fire safety training. These include:

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

How to obtain a fire risk assessment

The Fire Protection Association can remove the stress of undertaking a fire safety risk assessment by providing a consultant who is suitably experienced in your specific industry sector. After working alongside your responsible persons, our risk assessment experts will produce a report which includes a fire risk assessment record of significant findings, a clear and concise fire safety plan detailing actions recommended, and a full fire risk assessment of the building.

Our highly experienced team of professional fire risk assessors can carry out a fire risk assessment in a variety of premises including retail centres, individual shops, healthcare buildings, industrial buildings, factories, historic buildings, commercial buildings, hotels, schools, and blocks of flats, amongst others.

To have the FPA undertake either an initial report or review your fire risk assessment, email or call us on 01608 812 500. Find out more about the FPA’s fire risk assessment services.

Please be aware that considerable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within this article at the time of publication, however any legislative (or other) changes that come into effect after this may render the information out of date until it is reviewed and updated as part of the FPA’s content review cycle.