You must manage any fire risk on your commercial property by carrying out and maintaining an up-to-date fire risk assessment.
Fire risk assessment: step-by-step process
The recommended way to carry out a fire risk assessment is to follow a step-by-step process as outlined below.
Step 1: Identify potential fire hazards
Look out for and identify potential fire hazards on your business premises. Fire hazards can include:
- anything that has the potential to start a fire, such as naked flames, heaters or commercial processes or equipment such as cookers or hot-air dryers
- anything that can burn in a fire, including piles of waste, display materials, textiles or other flammable products
- oxygen sources such as air conditioning, medical products or commercial oxygen supplies which might intensify a fire
Step 2: Identify people at risk from fire
Take a look at your staff, customers, suppliers and anyone else who comes onto your business property and assess their fire risk. People at risk from fire include:
- people who work close to or with fire hazards
- people who work alone, or in isolated areas such as storerooms
- children or parents with babies
- elderly people
- disabled people
Step 3: Evaluate, remove or reduce the fire risk
To comply with fire safety legislation, you will need to:
- where possible, get rid of the fire hazards you identified - eg remove build-ups of waste - and reduce any hazards you can't remove entirely
- replace highly flammable materials with less flammable ones
- keep anything that can start a fire away from flammable materials
- have a safe-smoking policy for employees or customers who want to smoke in a designated area near your premises (smoking in enclosed spaces is banned) - see workplace smoking policy.
Once you have reduced the fire risk as far as is practical, you should assess any remaining risks that can't be removed and manage these with appropriate fire safety measures.
Step 4: Record, plan and train for fire
- record significant findings from your fire risk assessment and the action or actions you have taken - this is a legal requirement if you have more than five employees
- prepare an emergency plan in the event of a fire breaking out on your property
- inform and instruct the appropriate persons, and co-operate and co-ordinate with others to ensure fire safety
- provide fire safety training to all your staff
Step 5: Review the fire assessment
You should keep the fire risk assessment under regular review and revise it where necessary, especially if any significant changes have been made to your business premises. See fire safety: record, review and revise.
Fire risk assessment templates and guidance
You can download and adapt the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service's fire risk assessment templates to help you carry out a fire risk assessment on your business property. The fire risk assessment guidance notes (PDF, 79K) may also help you get started with completing and recording your fire risk assessment.