Managing fire safety
There are a myriad of legislative and technical requirements for fire safety management. But success or failure is ultimately measured by the impact our decisions, policies and actions have, in reality, on our communities and the safety of our residents.
A Fire Safety Practice Checklist
v Accurate Stock Condition Information: ‘knowing your stock and assets’
- Have you identified, categorised and prioritised all your stock for the purposes of your Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) programme? Does this inform the frequency of your FRA’s?
o How robust and accurate are your FRA’s? Would they be judged as fit for purpose? The Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order 2005 provides guidance on the contents of these risk assessments.
v Fire Safety Policy and Procedure ‘corporate statement and approach’
- Does your organisation have a single comprehensive strategic policy and procedure for fire safety? This document should outline as a minimum your legislative requirements, work scope, FRA procedures, staff roles and responsibilities, record keeping and monitoring procedures, health and safety audits and equality impact assessment.
- For example, it should include protocols for the installation, maintenance and servicing regimes for smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, wet and dry risers, emergency lighting, class O painting programmes, signage, fire safety equipment, lightening conductors, extinguishers, combustible materials in communal areas, refuse chutes and hoppers and bin chute rooms and so on. The importance of procurement, control of contractors and allocation of financial budgets for this work must not be underestimated.
v Responsible Person: ‘clarity of roles’
- Has your organisation identified a responsible person to ensure compliance with the Regulatory Reform Order and for co-ordinating and assessing the FRA’s?
- The management of fire safety is more than ‘one person’. In accordance with its corporate fire safety policy an organisation must ensure that all senior managers and frontline staff understand their specific roles and responsibilities, thus ensuring that these duties are carried out.
- Are these officers competent and have they received the necessary training and instruction?
- Do they have the authority and mandate to fulfil these functions and are these duties stated within their job description and personal specification?
v Introduction of Fire Stopping Certificates: ‘simple but effective’
- Are operatives or engineers engaged on your work required to complete a fire certificate to confirm they have not compromised fire safety but have undertaken the necessary fire stopping to the correct specification and identified any fire safety risks they have found?
- A completed certificate should be required for all refurbishment, alteration and maintenance works where the integrity of the fire stopping may be affected.
v Resident Awareness and Fire Safety Information: ‘not just about bricks and mortar’
o Do you hold specific knowledge of the needs of your tenants, leaseholders and the general public?
o Do you have access to tenant profiles in terms of how the demographics of a building occupancy can change over time?
o Do you place fire safety information into all tenancy handbooks or tenancy start-up packs and are Home Fire Safety Checks offered?
o In blocks of flats or maisonettes, have all residents been made aware of the appropriate action to be taken in the event of fire? Do they know the evacuation process and procedure?
o Do you operate a Personal Evacuation Plan (PEP) for more vulnerable tenants?
o Have residents whose first language is not English been given access to clear and understandable fire safety information?
o Is evidence available to demonstrate that you have fully assessed and responded to the needs of vulnerable residents in relation to fire safety?
v Establishment of a Fire Safety Committee: ‘effective co-ordination and control’
o The establishment of a fire safety committee chaired by the policy process owner and attended by key stakeholders ensures health and safety compliance. Its terms of reference can commission audits and fundamental service reviews. This limits complacency and continually monitors the consistency and standard of the service.