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The 7 steps to procuring successful fire risk assessment programmes

Some great advice on considerations prior to procuring Fire Risk Assessments.

"The 7 steps to procuring successful fire risk assessment programmes

Tom Gilbert highlights 7 key considerations issues that organizations should be considered prior to embarking on the procurement of third party fire risk assessors to deliver large fire risk assessment programmes across a multi-site portfolio.

It’s been eight years since the Fire Safety Order came into force and during this time many organizations have procured large fire risk assessment programmes which subsequently failed to meet expectations.

In England and Wales, Article 9 (1) of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, imposes a legal requirement on the body corporate to undertaken ‘Suitable and Sufficient’ fire risk assessments.

After some considerable time debating issues around competency and the ‘cowboy market’ the fire risk management profession has established a national competency criteria and a guide for those seeking to appoint third party fire risk assessors. UKAS accredited third party certification of assessors is being embraced (although not as much as the profession would like) and we are now much clearer on what ‘Suitable and Sufficient’ actually looks like. It is definitely not a tick box sheet.

A ‘suitable and sufficient’ Fire Risk Assessment should usually be a wordy document and the level of supporting commentary provided allows the client/auditor to gain a full understanding of the related issues in relation to the life safety provisions provided in the building that has been assessed.

Those seeking to formalise their fire risk management system in accordance with PAS 7: 2013 will be aware of the requirement 7.4.2(b) for organizations to implement a procedure for the assessment of competency of fire risk assessors be they internal or external to the organization utilised to deliver the programme.

There have been plenty of articles written on competency so from here on in I will outline what I believe to be, 7 key considerations for those seeking to procure large fire risk assessment contracts.

STEP 1 - Formalise your fire risk management system first!

If asked ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’ I cannot tell you for sure. If asked ‘what should come first, fire risk assessments or the formalisation of organizational fire risk management system?’ I can provide a clear and compelling answer.

We recognise that the process of fire risk assessment is the cornerstone of the fire safety order, and equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but believe that an organization should formalise its fire risk management system first, in accordance with national guidance contained within PAS 7: 2013, prior to embarking on the procurement and delivery of a large fire risk assessment programme. There is considerable benefit to be gained by communicating to assessors how governance of fire risk is dealt with at an organizational level. Assessors will better understand how to communicate the findings of the assessments to stakeholders within the organization, and the relevant duty-holders who are charged with addressing them. By approaching fire risk management in a top down approach the organization will minimize the amount of duplication within the FRA findings, especially on matters of established organizational policy and procedure."

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