Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The evolution of Fire Risk Management

Some organisations are beginning to wonder if the current Fire Risk practice is sustainable.

It’s been nearly nine years since the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 prompted many organisations to undertake fire risk assessments within the premises under their control and many organisations have spent significant resources on consultant fire risk assessors (a person who carries out and documents the significant findings of a fire risk assessment) only to discover that the advice they received may have been offered with the best of intentions but was not wholly appropriate and may have differed from the advice of a ‘competent’ fire risk assessor. 

At the same time, the fire industry has spent a considerable amount of time in the last few years deciding how to define a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment and deciding how to tackle the ‘cowboy’ market.  It would appear that, at long last, there is now at least a ‘defined’ competency criterion for fire risk assessors and guidance for those charged with delivering fire risk assessment programmes on how to seek out the services of a competent fire risk assessor.  

Following a recent review of Enforcement of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, undertaken by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, the Chief Fire Officers Association ( CFOA ) is now committed to promoting the use, and acceptance, of recognised professional certification and accreditation for commercial fire risk assessors. 

Fire risk assessments are the cornerstone of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, yet the value of a fire risk assessment, even when undertaken by a competent fire risk assessor, is largely dependent on the organisation’s ability to manage the outcomes.

A fire risk assessment is a means to an end but not the end in itself.  When reviewing the high profile prosecutions that have hit the headlines over the past few years, one quickly realises that failure to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment (under Article 9) is not the only compliance obligation imposed by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005; there are numerous other duties by which the responsible person is bound.

The concept of ‘fire risk management’. With very few fire fatalities arising in commercial premises, fire risk management is not just about life safety or the risk of injury or death in the event of fire occurrence. It encapsulates life safety, property protection, business continuity and sustainability in the face of fire. 

In today’s global and interconnected market place, issues, such as corporate social responsibility and reputational risk, are very prominent and news headlines travel fast via both traditional and new media forms. The cost of fire is at an all-time high and, in these tough economic times, organisations need to be frugal with finite financial resources. They need to build resilience and ensure that fire risk assessment programmes deliver the intended outcomes.

Fire risk management is a discipline in its own right with its own set of competencies. The discipline does not always sit neatly in the Health & Safety department due to the need for interaction with property, estates or facilities management functions and the old adage about ‘Jack of all trades’ most certainly applies.

We are heading for fire risk management system certification via a certification body. Those organisations that already hold certification of their Health and Safety Management System to OHSAS 18001, or Business Continuity Management System to ISO 22301

No comments:

Post a Comment