Cumbria and Lancashire Fire Safety

How to Check Fire Risk Assessor Competency: An Important Guide

Are you looking for guidance in choosing a competent fire risk assessor? In this guide, we outline the steps and precautions to take to help verify fire risk assessor competency, as well as the risks of not choosing a suitably qualified assessor.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 introduced the requirement for a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment to be carried out for all non-domestic premises in England and Wales.

Under the Order, all relevant premises must have a designated ‘Responsible Person’ in charge of ensuring compliance. This will either be whoever is responsible for the premises or, where there are staff, it will be the employer.

As the Responsible Person, you are not expected personally to be an expert in assessing and controlling fire safety risks.

You are perfectly within your rights to appoint a consultant to undertake your fire risk assessment. However, it is important that you apply due diligence and carry out checks to ensure the consultant possesses sufficient fire risk assessment competency to be able to properly undertake the work.

Always bear in mind that, regardless of who undertakes it, as the Responsible Person, the duty for making sure the assessment aligns with the law will always fall with you.

If your fire risk assessment is lacking, you will be putting the safety of your premises, and the people within in, at risk. If risks are not properly identified and managed, the results could be fatal.

How to assess fire risk assessor competency?

The Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council (FRACC) has helpfully published a set of competency criteria for fire risk assessors against which you can judge anyone you appoint to carry out your fire risk assessment.

These criteria can be summarised as follows:

A person can be considered competent where they have sufficient training, experience or knowledge or other qualities that would allow them to adequately carry out their role.

Where the premises are simple and low risk, the fire risk assessor will need:

  • An understanding of current best fire safety practices in the specific premises being assessed
  • Awareness of any limitations of their own experience and knowledge
  • When required, a willingness and ability to supplement existing experience and knowledge by obtaining external help and advice

In general, a competent fire risk assessor will have appropriate knowledge of:

  • The assessment of risk from fire
  • Applicable legislation
  • Appropriate guidance
  • Behaviour of fire in premises
  • Effects of fire on people and behaviour of people in fire situations
  • Means of escape
  • Fire prevention
  • Passive and active fire protection
  • Management of fire safety

Whilst fire risk assessor competency does not necessarily depend on having particular qualifications, certain qualifications might contribute to the demonstration of competence. In terms of knowledge, this can be obtained by academic study, training, short courses, continuing professional development (CPD) or any combination of these.

Part of your due diligence exercise should include making sure the fire risk assessment consultant has experience in working for your specific type of business and premises.

You should also request references from past clients with similar premises to yours for your own peace of mind; seek proof of sufficient professional indemnity insurance, and make sure the assessor is independent and has a complaints procedure in place.

Always keep records of the steps you followed in selecting your fire risk assessor and checking fire risk assessor competency.

Seeking a competent fire risk assessor in Cumbria, Penrith, Kendal or Carlisle?

BPW Fire Safety’s Callum Graham is one of the few Tier 2 accredited Fire Risk Assessors in Cumbria.

A former Fire Officer, Callum served for 27 years with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, during which time he held the role of Group Manager, covering duties such as operational firefighting and incident command; divisional command and fire enforcement and investigation, amongst others.

As Divisional Fire Inspector, Callum spent a decade enforcing fire safety legislation, and was involved in the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Callum is a Member of the British Standards Institute and a Graduate of the Institution of Fire Engineers. He is also a Member of the Institute of Fire Safety Managers, holding the following qualifications relevant to fire risk assessment:

  • Graduate of the Institution of Fire Engineers (GIFireE)
  • Member of the Institute of Fire Safety Managers (MIFSM)
  • Tier 2 Accredited Assessor
  • ILM Level 5 Award – Leadership & Management
  • Bond Solon Legal Training – Advanced Certificate in Investigative Practice
  • National Fire Service College – Fire Investigation Officer
  • National Examinations Board in Occupational Safety & Health (NEBOSH) General Certificate
  • Internal Verifier (NVQ V1) & Assessor (NVQ A1)
  • Fire Service College Fire Safety Modules A-D

It is important not to lose sight of the objectives of a fire risk assessment, which are to help you understand and identify potential fire risks so that you can improve your fire safety measures and keep your premises, and the people within them, safe.

At BPW Fire Safety, our competent fire risk assessors are on hand to help you with a range of fire risk assessment services.

We work across Cumbria, Penrith, Kendal and Carlisle. To discover how we can assist, please contact BPW Fire Safety today.