Updated 30 September 2020
Anybody controlling a premises must carry out a risk assessment to examine the risk to people from fire. This is called a Fire Risk Assessment or FRA.
An FRA examines any risk that may cause or worsen a fire and recommends actions to reduce them. A quality FRA provides a wealth of efficiencies, cost savings and importantly, higher standards of safety to any organisation required to provide one.
The Law and Regional Variations
Fire safety legislation in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland use slight differences in terminology. One such case is Dutyholder.
Dutyholder, Responsible Person and Appropriate Person are all used to describe a person responsible for the safety of a premises. In this document, we will refer to the Dutyholder.
In any premises where there is more than one Dutyholder, they must all work together to cooperate, co-ordinate and share information with others as far as is necessary to comply with regulations.
The responsibility of a Dutyholder is for the safety of anyone that is lawfully on the premises. The Dutyholder along with any other duty holders must do their best to make sure everyone on the premises or nearby, can escape from a fire.
The Dutyholder is ultimately responsible for producing an adequate FRA and carrying out all recommended measures to improve fire safety.
A Competent Person has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to undertake an FRA. The level of competence required will depend upon the complexity of the premises and the FRA.
A Competent Person will have a working knowledge of relevant, current best fire safety practices in premises of the type in question. A competent person should be aware of the limitations of the fire risk assessor’s own experience and knowledge; and a willingness and ability to supplement existing experience and knowledge, when necessary by obtaining external help and advice.
Higher risk or more complex premises require a higher level or knowledge and experience on the part of the fire risk assessor. For such premises, there is a need for the specific applied knowledge and skills or appropriate qualifications.
If a Dutyholder is also a Competent Person in the field of fire safety, they can carry out their own FRA, but if not, they should engage a third party Fire Risk Assessor who is a Competent Person.
Legal liability can arise on the part of the Dutyholder and the Fire Risk Assessor if an FRA is not suitable or sufficient.