It is a fact of life that wherever you are, you are at risk of fire. Certainly, some places are more at risk than others, but even out on the moors you are at risk of fire. Only a few days ago there was a moorland fire above Oldham with 35 firefighters on the scene all night. They managed to extinguish it, but this was just before the end of February! Even out at sea on a small boat you are at risk of fire if something goes wrong with the engine. OK, the risk may not be great, but there is still some element of it, and it does happen.
This is why, if you own a business and employ five people or more, the law requires you to undertake a fire risk assessment and take all steps that you can to (a) prevent fire and (b) ensure that everyone can evacuate safely if one should break out. It is not just businesses, either. You could have a church or chapel, for example. There can still be a fire risk, albeit small. The law doesn't require you to undertake a fire risk assessment in such buildings, but it would be a good idea to do so.
The problem with undertaking a fire risk assessment is that the vast majority of business owners and employers really have no idea how to do it. Unless you have had specialist training, how could you know of all the potential risks? Yet the law as it stands requires you to do exactly that and keep a record of your findings and any actions you have taken as a result.
All right, some things may be obvious, such as storing flammable liquids like petrol or oil away from an area in which your employees are undertaking welding, which creates a lot of sparks. However, a lot of things are not obvious to the untrained eye. You may make a very honest fire risk assessment of your business, but you could easily miss something that is critical simply because you don't understand it. Don't get us wrong: the law is a sensible one. But it doesn't account for genuine lack of knowledge which is the fault of no-one.
Furthermore, a fire risk assessment doesn't just take into account the risk of a fire occurring. It also has to take into account what happens if a fire does occur. How do people get out of the building? What about people who are disabled? Are there enough signs pointing to the fire exits? Are the routes to a fire exit as short as possible and are they free from clutter so that people can use them? Do the fire doors close properly? If you haven't got fire doors, should you install them? Do your staff know what to do if a fire breaks out? Are they trained in the use of fire fighting equipment? Do you have the right fire fighting equipment in the first place?
Those are just SOME of the things that you have to take into consideration when you are an employer. There are many more. This is why many businesses today are taking advantage of having a fire risk assessment carried out by someone who DOES know what they are doing and has been properly trained. It is a speciality in just the same way that the mechanic who services your Ferrari is a specialist or the electrician who rewires your home is a specialist.
Ah! But what about the fire risk assessment cost we can hear you ask. Of course, there is a cost, in the same way that there is a cost for any other service. Are you going to service your own Ferrari? Or even your Ford Focus? Not very likely. Service your own car, and if you don't know what you are doing, you could very well end up in a serious road accident.
The same thing applies to a fire risk assessment cost. If you try to do it yourself, you could end up in a situation where you have a fire and it costs lives. One of those lives could very easily be your own.