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21 Jul, 2023

Business owners must protect and keep their premises, staff and customers safe at all times. This is both a moral imperative and an important protection against liability which can arise should someone get injured or killed or their property gets damaged. Naturally, fire is one of those risks that owners should be aware of and at all times try to prevent. For this reason, businesses must undergo a fire risk assessment to evaluate the danger posed by fires.

In this guide, you will learn more about fire risk assessments, why they are important, and who should do this very important task at your workplace.

What is a Fire Risk Assessment?

A fire risk assessment is the exercise of determining the possible fire risks that exist at your workplace.

It comprises five key steps:

  1. Identify the risk: This step entails identifying the fire hazard such as the substances and chemicals that may cause a fire.
  2. Identify people at risk of injury or death: Identify the individuals who might be most at risk should a fire break out. This includes those working directly with the possible hazards or those who might be affected by the fire.
  3. Evaluating, removing or reducing the risk: Assess the possibility of a fire occurring and then work towards removing or reducing the risk.
  4. Recording the findings, preparing an emergency plan and providing training: An emergency plan is compiled with details regarding where staff and customers should exit in the event of a fire, the locations of exit doors, what should be done if the fire doors are locked, and where staff should meet. Training should also be provided so staff know the general fire precautions and what to do in case of a fire.
  5. Updating and regularly reviewing the assessment: Should any significant staff changes or changes to the buildings occur, owners must do a fire risk assessment review and update the assessment accordingly.

A fire risk assessment is a comprehensive exercise and looks at several fire risk factors and will vary depending on, amongst others:

  • The size of the business premises
  • The layout of the building
  • The number of employees
  • The presence and storage of any dangerous or flammable liquids and materials
  • The location of fire escapes and how well they are maintained

Fire risk assessors consider several other factors when doing the check-up and the extent of the inspection will differ from business to business and building to building.

Importance of Fire Risk Assessments

A fire can hold serious risks for any company. Not only can it lead to property damage but also the injury and death of employees and customers. This can have serious financial implications and lead to losses in revenue, reputation and a halting of trading operations.

It is a legal requirement for UK businesses to conduct a sufficient fire risk assessment regularly. These assessments focus on minimising or preventing fires, consider the risk to non-employees like clients or visitors and require that staff be trained in fire safety.

A fire risk assessment is geared towards minimising and preventing workplace fires and helps protect businesses against any claims, damages or losses that could arise in the event of a fire.

So, Who Carries Out The Fire Risk Assessment?

According to the UK Government’s Fire Safety in the Workplace website, the following individuals are responsible for fire safety in a building used for non-domestic purposes:

  • The owner
  • The landlord
  • An occupier
  • Anyone with control of the premises (e.g. the facilities manager, managing agent, building manager or risk assessor)
  • An employer

The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 requires that the assessment is arranged by a ‘responsible person’ and conducted by a ‘competent person’.

The ‘responsible person’ who schedules the assessment can be the business owner, the landlord, or the risk assessor.

The ‘competent person’ is defined as ‘a person with enough training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable them properly to assist in undertaking the preventative and protective measures’.

This means that businesses can conduct their own fire risk assessment if they have a competent person, but, if they are not experienced enough, it’s advised that they contact a competent fire risk assessor.

Legal Requirements and Guidelines for Fire Risk Assessments

The responsible person and the competent person carrying out the fire risk assessment need to be aware of the following guidelines:

1. The assessment must be regularly reviewed

The assessment must be reviewed every 12 months from the date of the initial assessment. A completely new assessment should be conducted every five years or:

  • If the layout of the building has been changed or altered.
  • If the purpose of the building has been significantly changed
  • If the number of employees has considerably changed

2. The assessment must be a written document if the workplace has 5 or more employees

If a company has five or more people working in the building the assessment must be written down. It is, however, recommended that you always have the assessment in written form, no matter the number of employees on the premises.

3. The assessment must contain the findings and actions to be taken in the event of a fire

The assessment must contain two components: The review itself (used to gauge the fire safety of the building) and the list of recommended actions (including fire safety measures) that need to be taken to ensure the premises’ fire safety.

Benefits of Using MCFP for Fire Risk Assessments

Here at MCFP, we’re an independent, third-party accredited service provider that operates out of London, Oxford, and Bristol. We’re fully certified to carry out fire risk assessments for businesses.

Registered as a BAFE SP205 assessor, MCFP boasts the necessary experience and knowledge to help guide you during the assessment process.

Guided by the Reform Fire Safety Order, MCFP’s fire risk assessments look at, among others, the following in your building:

  • Fire prevention
  • Fire detection (including individual fire alarms and fire alarm systems)
  • Fire protection (fire doors and extinguishers, escape routes, etc.).

Should a fire occur in your workplace, MCFP’s fire risk assessment will ensure that your company is fully compliant with legislation, should you face any investigations and scrutiny from the Fire Officer, HSE, the Courts and your insurance company.


In summary, fire risk assessments are aimed at identifying the fire hazards of a workplace, and how to remove or reduce these risks, and also gives rise to an emergency plan which is activated during a building fire.

Because fire risk assessment is required under UK law (under the Fire Safety Order 2005) any business that does not have this assessment is contravening the law. Businesses or staff can be fined or imprisoned if inspections show that a fire risk assessment has not been done or is not up-to-date.

In addition to having an up-to-date fire risk assessment being a legal requirement, it can also protect companies against liability when a fire occurs.

Need help with your fire risk assessment? Contact us today to compile and prepare your fire risk assessment to ensure that, in the event of a fire, your company is fully compliant with legislation.