Here you can download a free fire safety risk assessment template. Simply fill out the form below to access our detailed Excel spreadsheet. This fire inspection report template will save you time, keep you on track and ensure that your premises are optimally prepared in the face of fire or smoke.
Fire protection is a key issue in construction and facility management. By using a detailed checklist, you play it safe when you check the fire safety of a building. In the following article, you will learn everything there is to know about the topic of fire safety.
What are the common challenges when it comes to fire safety inspections?
Buildings in the UK must meet fire safety requirements. Regular inspections ensure that a property meets these standards. However, a thorough inspection brings with it a number of challenges. These include the challenge to properly document everything, to keep track of changes and responsibilities, specific requirements depending on the type of building, materials used and more. To overcome these challenges, inspectors usually use a fire inspection checklist. This list guides inspectors in a systematic approach to identify and address potential fire safety constraints. In the next section, you will learn what this list should contain.
What should be included in a fire inspection checklist?
A detailed checklist is the basis of a thorough fire safety inspection. The checklist ought to include all points that need to be checked and documented. This way, the inspectors or the persons responsible for fire safety can be sure that nothing will be overlooked. Following, we present the contents that should not be missing from any fire safety checklist. It is worth noting that this is general advice. Depending on the building or construction, some points may be omitted or added. If you are responsible for the fire safety of a building, you should therefore familiarize yourself with the individual circumstances of the property.
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Information on the building and inspection
First, all relevant information of the property to be inspected and of the inspection itself must be recorded. In any case, this includes the name of the person inspecting, the building areas being inspected, the address and, if applicable, the name of the property, the owner of the property, the date of the inspection and the responsible authority. This item also includes a signature field for the inspector. In addition, it must be checked whether the given details are still up-to-date and whether the fire brigade will be able to find the address from the street. Optionally, the date of the last or the next planned inspection can also be noted. Afterwards, it is a matter of inspecting the individual building areas.
Condition of the electrical systems
Short circuits, defective electrical installations and insufficiently sealed cables pose an increased risk of fire. The fire safety audit checklist must therefore include the condition of the property’s electrical installations. All electrical installations need to be checked to ensure that they will not cause a fire.
Condition of the fire exits
In the UK, it is mandatory that public buildings and flat buildings are equipped with emergency exits. Emergency exits are planned before construction or retrofitted during refurbishment. Nevertheless, it is necessary to check whether the emergency exits actually exist, whether they are not obstructed and whether they are appropriately marked. In addition, it must be checked if the escape routes are clearly visible, both with signposts and with prominent escape route signs. Blocked escape routes will have to be cleared and missing signage retrofitted. The relevant details must be noted on the fire safety inspection checklist.
Condition of the smoke, fire and carbon monoxide alarms
Public buildings in the UK must in most cases have a fire alarm that can be activated in the event of a fire. Many buildings also have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. The fire alarm is often tested in combination with a fire drill, simulating an emergency. In the case of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, it is usually sufficient to check that the devices are powered and that they are working properly.
Condition of the sprinkler system and fire extinguishers
A fire safety inspection checklist must allow the inspector to enter information on the condition of the sprinkler system and the fire extinguishers. It must be tested whether there are enough fire extinguishers, whether they have not yet reached their best-before date, whether they are still functioning and whether they are easily visible and accessible. In the case of the sprinkler system, it is crucial to check whether the water supply is guaranteed, whether the system is leak-proof and whether the range of the nozzles is not obstructed by furniture or other objects.
Condition of the emergency lighting
The emergency light helps people to orientate themselves even in difficult conditions such as smoke and fire. As part of the fire safety inspection, it must be checked whether the emergency lighting is working properly. This information must be recorded in the fire safety inspection checklist. Without functioning emergency lighting, persons in the building will lack light and directions to find emergency exits. While the electricity supply goes out in the event of a fire, the emergency lighting and directions to the emergency exits must continue to be powered in the event of a fire.
Condition of heat producing devices and appliances
Devices that produce heat, such as lamps, boilers, radiant heaters or computer servers, pose a fire risk. Therefore, these devices must be noted under the item “heat-producing devices” on the fire safety audit checklist. Among other things, the inspector has to check whether such appliances keep the legal distance to combustible materials, whether the appliances are damaged and whether the appliances are certified accordingly.
Who is responsible for checking for fire safety?
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the owner of the building is responsible for ensuring that fire safety is maintained and complies with the law. The owner undertakes to carry out the necessary fire inspections to confirm that fire safety is still maintained. If the building owners cannot or do not wish to carry out this task themselves, they may appoint someone to carry out the inspection on their behalf. This person may be an external service provider or a selected representative of the company that owns the building.
Why is fire safety important?
Over the past decades, fire safety standards in the United Kingdom have been continuously upgraded. Most recently, regulations were tightened in England and Wales with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. But why is fire safety such an important issue in the first place? For owners and facility managers, there are three main reasons why they should not neglect the fire safety of their property. We have summarized these reasons in the following sections.
To reduce the risk of injury
When a fire breaks out, it can have devastating consequences for the occupants, customers or employees who are in the building at the time of the fire. The main reason why the issue of fire safety is so important is to avoid the risk and impact of fire. This is to prevent injuries or, in extreme cases, even deaths as good as possible. The aim is therefore not only to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out, but also to protect the individuals in the building if a fire does break out. With a functioning fire protection system, fires should be able to be extinguished and everyone should be able to get to safety before anyone is harmed.
To avoid damage to the facility
First and foremost, fire protection serves to prevent injuries and save lives. Secondly, however, fire protection also serves to protect the building and its furnishings from fire. Fires can completely destroy buildings and their equipment in a matter of hours. If it turns out that the necessary precautions to ensure fire safety were not taken, the financial damage will usually not be covered by the insurance. In addition, there are the costs for destroyed data and the destruction of objects with intangible value. So from both a human and a financial perspective, it pays to take fire safety seriously.
To protect against possible fines
Another financial reason to have effective fire protection is the possibility of fines. If the authorities find that the fire protection does not meet the legal requirements, the consequences can quickly exceed a simple warning. Costs are even higher if fire protection is neglected and a fire actually breaks out. In case of personal injury or damage to particularly valuable objects, the charges may be even more severe. In order to avoid warnings, fines or, in the worst case, even legal proceedings for negligent homicide, fire protection must not be neglected under any circumstances. Not complying with the minimum legal requirements, either intentionally or through carelessness, is absolutely unacceptable and must be avoided at all costs.
How often should you conduct fire safety inspections?
In the UK, there is no universal legislation that specifies how often fire safety inspections must be carried out. The law only states that inspections have to take place regularly and that it has to be ensured that fire safety is guaranteed and meets the minimum legal requirements. In general practice, the fire safety of commercial buildings in the UK is inspected by most owners at least once a year. Some owners also choose to carry out shallow inspections every year or every six months, and more in-depth inspections every two to three years. A fire drill might be carried out on an unscheduled basis to simulate real-life circumstances as accurately as possible.
Fire inspection checklist template: conclusion
Fire safety in the UK has been continuously upgraded over the past decades. To ensure that their buildings meet the legal requirements, building owners must check the fire safety of their property at regular intervals. This can be done by the owner or by someone else. The person carrying out the fire safety inspection usually relies on a fire safety inspection checklist to perform the inspection. This list allows the inspector to proceed systematically and to not overlook any safety-relevant details. Therefore, ensuring that the fire safety inspection checklist used is complete becomes a key issue. Among the items that the checklist must cover are the details of the building and the check and information on the condition of various parts of the building such as emergency exits, fire alarms, emergency lighting, electrical systems and so on.
Fire safety requirements are strict in the UK. However, there is a good reason for that. The primary purpose of fire protection is to protect the individuals in the building from injury or death. Nevertheless, there are also financial reasons why landlords should take fire safety seriously. For one thing, fire may severely damage or even completely destroy the premises and its facilities. Secondly, there may be fines if fire safety is neglected. Especially if a fire occurs and the legal requirements have not been met, owners may be faced with high fines and a waiver of payment from the insurance company. Thorough implementation of fire safety therefore remains vital from every point of view.