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A very happy and prosperous New Year to all our readers.
This months prize photo is of the Fire Escape from a Basement Shop!!
Now that the furore caused by the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) on October the 1st last year is three months old, the awareness of companies that they should carry out Fire Risk Assessments appears to be greater than it was when the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations were brought in during 1997 and the Amended Regulations in 1999.
This is obviously a positive state of affairs but we do have some concern however that the standard of some Assessments is low and in some cases a travesty of the spirit of the new legislation. Unfortunately the RRO does not have a definitive form in which the Risk Assessment should be completed and with the guides being some 150 pages long, it is clear that some establishments both large and small, are not using the guides and are carrying out the assessments without the knowledge that the legislation demands of the ‘competent person’ who should carry out the assessment.
Many of the available assessment forms are multiple choice and have such basic questions as ‘Are there enough Fire Extinguishers? Yes or No? This is not in itself a problem other than it is and must be a subjective answer, and in many cases, the judgement has been made as ‘Yes’ where the experience of the ‘competent person’ was insufficient and they had not allowed for risks that would be known to someone with the necessary training.
We would strongly advise any company who has decided to carry out their own assessment to have the appointed ‘competent person’ study the relevant guide thoroughly. In many cases, with the Fire Precautions Act no longer in force, the assessment is replacing an inspection and report by a Fire Precautions Officer from the Local Fire Authority. These officers have had a great deal of training and experience over many years and it is unlikely that this experience could be gained by taking a Fire Risk Assessment course which could take a day and in a number of cases a half-day.
This is not to say that with very small premises that the owner/manager could not complete an assessment but even in this case, some training should be given.
We have had numerous requests from small organisations for advice on assessments. On being given the details of their premises and in some cases visiting them were able to assure them that they can carry out the assessment themselves with our help at no cost or we have carried out an assessment for them at no cost.
If you are in any doubt as to whether you can meet the requirements ‘in house’, please contact us when we will gladly advise you on the best course of action or give you a quotation for us to carry out the assessment.
Story By : Malcolm Moffat
Date : 05-01-2007