What is a Fire Hazard Assessment?

February 20 2024

What is a Fire Hazard Assessment?

A fire risk assessment is an essential safety procedure that helps businesses identify fire hazards and risk exposure. During this comprehensive process, a fire safety professional or other responsible party will evaluate hazards, identify at-risk people, and work alongside leadership to develop strategies to reduce risk. 

Let’s explore the ins and outs of a fire safety risk assessment and what benefits businesses can expect when undertaking this mission-critical safety procedure.

Understanding Fire Safety Risk Assessments

The average cost of fire damage restoration is about $12,000, with heavily damaged properties needing $72,000 for proper cleanup. These statistics spotlight the importance of conducting regular fire hazard assessments. 

During a fire safety risk assessment, safety professionals will audit a business’s current fire safety measures and catalog areas of risk. Often, these assessments conclude with detailed recommendations to help reduce the risks identified during the evaluation. 

This is an organized and thorough look at an organization’s property, the activities within its walls, the likelihood of fire incidents, and the possible harm these incidents may have on personnel, property, and assets. The main goals of a fire risk assessment are as follows:

  • Identify fire hazards, including ignition sources and combustible/flammable materials
  • Understand which personnel are at risk
  • Catalog risks, plan for contingencies, and train relevant personnel
  • Monitor fire risks/hazards, review safety procedures, and revise policies as needed

Who Performs a Fire Risk Assessment?

A fire safety risk assessment is completed by a ‘responsible person’ such as the employer, landlord, property owner, or a trained fire risk assessor. For businesses, it’s usually the case that leadership will outsource a risk assessment to a competent professional, i.e., a company specializing in fire safety.

Fire safety professionals are essential because they’ll come equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to assess threats and outline effective risk mitigation strategies. They’ll also perform assessments according to rigorous industry standards like NFPA 551 and OSHA fire safety

The Process of Conducting a Fire Risk Assessment

A fire risk assessment starts with identifying the top fire hazards in the workplace. During these fire hazard assessments, the assessor will identify possible sources of the fire and the type of fire it may create. Here are a few examples of the classes of hazards:

  • Class A - These are common combustibles like wood, paper, or cloth.
  • Class B - Hazards in this class include flammable liquids like gasoline or propane.
  • Class C - Electrical hazards make up this class, including equipment like computers.
  • Class D - These are combustible metals like magnesium, sodium, and potassium.
  • Class K - Cooking hazards like oil, grease build-up, or unattended cooking equipment.

It’s important to note the difference between hazard and risk. A hazard has the potential to cause harm, while risk is associated with the chance of it happening. Risk is avoidable, but hazards often aren’t. 

After identifying hazards, the assessor will consider the people who use the premises, paying close attention to those at the most risk. This can include:

  • Visitors
  • Staff members
  • The general public

Next, they’ll evaluate existing fire safety standards and equipment. This will include everything from evacuation plans and training procedures to sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers

Lastly, the assessor will record their observations, create a risk mitigation plan, and inform relevant team members through training. These assessments must happen regularly, especially when there are structural changes to the building or when ownership changes.

Benefits of a Fire Hazard Assessment

While fire safety assessments should be a necessary component of a business's overall safety plan, these evaluations offer much more than simple regulatory compliance. Let’s explore a few key benefits of conducting regular fire hazard assessments:

  • Prevent Risk - No business wants to experience a fire incident. Keeping up with fire assessments means team members and leadership will be updated on effective strategies to mitigate those risks.
  • Insurance Company Confidence - A thorough record of safety assessments can prove invaluable when it comes time to make an insurance claim or renegotiate policy terms.
  • Staff Education - During the assessment, team members will become acquainted with workplace fire safety tips and learn all about the risks associated with their environment.
  • Peace of Mind - Some businesses deal with hazards and risks regularly. Keeping up with regular evaluations means everyone, from leadership to everyday team members, can feel safe in the workplace and ready to be productive. 

Schedule a Fire Risk Assessment and Keep Your Business Safe

A fire risk assessment is something to take seriously. Businesses are responsible for keeping the workplace safe, and regular fire hazard assessments are part of that mission. If your business is interested in a fire risk assessment, consider connecting with a trained team of safety professionals to schedule an evaluation

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