When a Fire Risk Assessment is completed for a property, there can be a raft of paperwork and reports to then wade through and try to make sense of. Whilst a lot of this may appear generic information, amongst this there will be important action points and guidance.
Some of this will be straightforward things for contractors and the ultimate responsible person to get on with, for example making sure the fire alarm servicing records are up to date, or installing new fire-exit signage. However, there can be more procedural issues, where individual occupiers or interests need to make note of something, or a matter effectively communicated to them.
This is particularly important when assessing communal areas in multi-let properties with many occupiers to keep informed, for example shared stairs in an apartment or office block.
Therefore, here are a few more unusual ones to consider, which hopefully are within a good Fire Risk Assessment somewhere, or even if not then still being good pointers that may also be worth looking into. They’re the sort of things that may not immediately come to mind, but still ever so important.
1. Simple Door Numbering
Having a simple address and door number on the right doors may sound trivial and nothing to do with fire issues, but in actual fact can be essential communication.
This is for when, say, the fire service arrive at a property, and literally needing to know where to go to any reported incident. Others may then say that such-and-such a person in Flat 23 in not around, which can then help them quickly go to the right area.
2. Smelly But Dangerous Things
Air freshener. It may sounds harmless, but they can case a fire, particularly the cheaper makes. These are the scented items you can plug into a wall socket to slowly let out a nice smell.
Because they are often on all the time, they can cause sudden issues, therefore ideally remove those not needed, or at least only use better-quality and accredited ones and carry out regular checks of them.
3. Covers Over Detectors
These are the smoke, or sometimes heat detectors that you see on ceiling areas which are designed to pick up any smoke or fire to then set the fire alarm off or open a smoke vent. Even though they’re up out of sight, have a quick visual check to spot any immediate problems.
Typical issues include signs of damage and maybe parts hanging away, whilst in some cases they can have covers and even plastic bags over them that someone has placed over to stop the alarm going off when perhaps carrying out dusty building works.
4. Items Stashed Away
This can be a real problem, often in hidden storage cupboards where, say, the electrical meters are, but sometimes even in open shared areas. In addition to looking out of place and being a trip hazard, they’re not good from a fire perspective with higher risks of causing an ignited flame and causing an obstacle for those needing to leave a property in an emergency.
So check everywhere, communicate to everyone to not obstruct areas with stored goods and to remove any existing goods, and even consider locking these areas off to deter future use.
5. Different Doors
People can look to change the door into their own personal flat or business space, whether that’s to be repaired after damage or simply look better. It may be their direct responsibility anyway, and therefore appears to be a case of just getting on with this.
From a fire-compliance perspective though this can cause issues, particularly if the new door is simply not a fire-resistant door. Or even if it is, there can be detail such as self-closers or smoke seals to consider. Therefore check that these are all genuine and agreed doors, and look further into any indications of changes.
And also watch out for changes to an existing fire door that can make a difference, for example a new letter box that is not smoke-resistant, and additional mortice locks that require holes right through the door.
Don’t Miss the Wood for the Trees
This old saying can certainly run true for Fire Risk Assessments, as people become diverted into the standard paperwork and typical action points. However a good assessment should be looking at more general issues, often the most simplest and oh so obvious.
These above top-tips will help steer you in the right direction, so be open to these then inspiring you to think of others as you begin looking at things differently. You can easily run these past others like a Risk Assessor and good contractor to then see what the valid ones are.
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