Fire Risk Assessments Responsible Person
January 17th, 2014
Fire Risk Assessments and The Role of the Responsible Person have been mentioned frequently in our newsletters and are an area which we find many of our customers are confused by, so here is some more clarification:
…Duties of ‘The Responsible Person’ (.pdf)
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005 (RRO2005) the management of fire safety rests with the ‘Responsible Person’. If a responsible person is not appointed there are defaults usually to the owner or person in charge.
The duties of The Responsible Person include the following:
Regular inspection, testing and maintenance of both active (fire alarms, extinguishers etc.) and passive (fire doors, seals, means of escape etc.) fire precautions. (See ‘Servicing Routines(.pdf))
Liaising with contractors to ensure safe working practices are used. (See ‘Liaising with Contractors’)
Keeping all ‘Relevant Persons’ informed of all fire related matters.
Formulating the ‘Emergency Plan’ for the safe evacuation of the building.
Recording all fire related matters within the log book.
A deputy should be appointed to provide cover for the Responsible Person.
In multi-occupied premises it is the duty of the ‘Responsible Person’ to cooperate and liaise with other Responsible Persons in the building.
The following article by Paul Bryant CEO of Kingfell also sheds some light on the subject:
A New Way of Thinking About the RRO and Fire Risk Assessments
28 November 2012
I remember when the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order was brought in it was thought by many to be a consultant’s charter to earn obscene amounts of money to undertake fire risk assessments. So some years later, where are all the jet setting, champagne sipping, fire risk assessors?
I believe many in the industry will agree with me that the fire risk assessment as the cornerstone of UK fire safety legislation just isn’t working the way it was anticipated.
I estimated some time back that the fire risk assessment market was worth in the order of £3.4bn based upon the number of buildings covered by the RRO and multiplied by a fair rate to undertake the inspections and complete a report.
The actual value of the industry is probably a small percentage of this due to the belief that a large number of buildings still do not have a risk assessment and another large number do not have “suitable and sufficient” risk assessments. Seven years on and it is a complete mess!
There are some real and fundamental issues that the fire industry and legislators need to face up to. These include:
A good percentage of ‘responsible persons’ are still not aware of their responsibilities.
Even when the responsible person is aware, they will, in a sizeable number of cases, intentionally look for the cheapest possible option. Let us not forget – however sad it may be to us in the industry – a fire risk assessment is a grudge purchase, just like insurance. We all shop around for the cheapest car insurance. There are even websites allowing us to do this. How different is this for the fire industry? Perhaps we should formulate a website ‘comparethefra.com’! The funny thing is that the insurance industry is much better at regulating itself than the fire industry.
Do we value fixing a dent in a car higher than protecting the lives of our employees?
Even when the risk assessment is undertaken it often comes as a complete surprise to the responsible person that there is a list of significant findings that needs attending to. They really do believe that the only cost attached to this legislation was the £80 or so cost of the risk assessment. Sometimes it is more attractive to employ an incompetent fire risk assessor and find less significant problems.
I even wonder if many fire risk assessments are actually ‘fire risk assessments’. I’ve seen many that simply compare the building, its facilities and occupancy to prescriptive guidance. They are, in fact, fire compliance assessments.
In an ideal world every building covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order would have been appropriately assessed. But how do you ensure this? I do not believe the answer is simply third party certification of assessors, or even greater levels of litigation.
We should consider removing the responsibility from arranging and managing fire risk assessments from the “Responsible Person” to the Local Authority. The “Responsible Person” will still be responsible as currently defined by UK law but the local authorities, collectively, will prepare or agree suitable and consistent guidelines for fire risk assessments.
The Local Authority will undertake the fire risk assessments using either their own internal expertise or external individuals or companies.
The level of detail of the assessment will be commensurate with the risk grade and the competence of assessors will need to be relevant to the risk grade. They will collect the cost of the fire risk assessments and the management from a small levy added to the council’s business tax for the building being assessed. In reality this will be a relatively small percentage increase.
Paul Bryant is the founder and CEO of Kingfell – fire and engineering risk management specialists.