In my last article, “What’s the Difference Between a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) and a Compartmentation Inspection”, we discussed exactly that, touching on who can deliver an FRA or an inspection, and what part they play in the journey to total compliance.
This time, we’re going to get a little more granular…
We already know that a Fire Risk Assessment is a process involving the systematic evaluation within a building or premises, and the factors that determine: the hazard from fire, the likelihood that there will be a fire and the consequences if one were to occur. But did you know there are actually 4 types of FRA?
"I Know I Need an FRA...But Which Type?"
Type 1 – This is the most basic of fire risk assessments that your building(s) will need to satisfy the Fire Safety Order. However, unless you’re anticipating moderate/severe deficiencies in your structural fire protection, a type 1 is normally satisfactory. Although this is a non-destructive assessment, it will at least include a sample of doors that protect common areas – for example flat entrance doors within social housing buildings.
Type 2 – Relating to the ‘protection of common parts’, this FRA is similar to the Type 1, but with a little more destructive activity. Carried out generally when there’s reason to suspect issues that could lead to non-containment of fire, this inspection would always be recommended to include the presence of an accredited contractor who can efficiently open and clean up construction.
Type 3 - A Type 3 FRA is non-destructive, and similar to a Type 1. However, it goes above the minimum requirements set out in the Fire Safety Order, by assessing fire defences, such as detection and escape routes within a sample of the building.
Type 4 – With a similar scope of works to a Type 3 FRA, a Type 4 has an element of destructive inspection, carried out on a sampling basis. This is the most comprehensive FRA you can have in your building(s) and is generally recommended if you suspect serious risk to occupants.
Type 4 - What Are the Alternatives?
There are many incredible providers of FRA’s in the UK, each with a vast array of knowledge that will help you make your buildings safer. However, if you think you need a Type 4 FRA, the chances are your building(s) is going to require a significant amount of work to get it back to the required levels of compliance. And you’re going to want to get on that pretty darn quickly.
As I mentioned before, an FRA is a fantastic way of pinpointing concerns, quickly applying a risk rating and a timescale in which a concern should be remedied, letting you know your next steps. But, if you already know you have severe problems, you can skip step one, and go straight to step 2.
This is where a destructive compartmentation survey comes in useful.
When undertaken by a third party accredited, reputable contractor, a destructive compartmentation survey ensures you get all elements of the “non-intrusive” survey, together with a pre-defined scope of intrusive works that are defined as a greater requirement than the enhanced survey option.
Basically, it will get to the root of all your passive fire safety issues, providing you with a clear course of action on how to remediate the concerns.
If you’re going for an FRA or a compartmentation inspection, please remember to always choose a competent inspector and/or a third-party accredited contractor to undertake the works. Otherwise, you leave yourself open for all manner of issues – most of which will generally require a ‘do-over’, leading to loss of time, compliance and money!
The journey to total compliance should begin by outsourcing your FRA to an independent and qualified individual/company, before investing in a 3rd party accredited contractor to undertake the additional works documented in your FRA. We can help with both of those things.
Fire risk assessors should always be professionally trained and qualified, in line with the revised PAS79 guidance: PAS79-1:2020 Fire risk assessment. Premises other than housing. Code of practice. I was intending to refer to PAS 79-2:2020 Fire risk assessment. Housing. Code of practice, for housing, however this has recently been withdrawn due to guidance stating that it is “not normally practicable” for fire risk assessments to identify people with disabilities, or for landlords to make provision for their evacuation in a fire.
So, as it stands there is currently no information with regards to which code of practice should be used by fire risk assessors for housing, until PAS 79-2: 2020 has been updated and reintroduced.
A spokesperson for the BSI said: “BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, is temporarily suspending PAS 79-2: 2020 Fire risk assessment, Housing, Code of practice and has removed it from sale. The suspension of the voluntary code of practice is pending a further review by the steering group, which is made up of experts in fire safety, fire risk assessment and the housing sector. As new information emerges from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry and the government’s response to it, BSI wishes the Steering Group to consider these and have the opportunity to take them into account before reaching consensus on the guidance and recommendations in the code. BSI would like the Steering Group to re-visit points raised during the public consultation relevant to persons with a disability and intends to further consult with experts in this field.”
So where does this leave Fire Risk Assessors now? Well, very much where they were before Part 2 was published; reliant on their own process for assessing the risks in this sector. Let’s hope that the standard is re-introduced without delay, as the governing bodies reopen a fresh consultation on the issue .
As always, If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch on email@example.com
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