For any home, the risk of a fire has to be handled with the highest regard, as it can mean life or death. Tenants need to be informed of what to do and where to go in case of a fire, and so risk assessments are needed to prevent loss of life and to ensure properties do not contain any fire hazards. This is essential especially for blocks of flats.
On the Leasehold Advisory Service (LAS) website, there is direction on the significance of having a risk assessment carried out in a block of flats and who is responsible for this. The Regulatory Reform, or Fire Safety Order (2005) requires a fire risk assessment to be carried out in blocks of flats or a building containing common parts of two or more dwellings. The responsibility of this falls onto a Freeholder, a Right to Manage company, a Residents Management Company or a managing agent contracted to act on behalf of any of the above. The risk assessment evaluates the risk to tenants from fire and existing fire measures are considered, as well as adopting new measures that may be needed.
The process that the fire risk assessment follows is first to identify fire hazards, then to identify people at risk, which leads on to evaluating, removing or reducing the risk and protecting against the remaining risks, and then is followed by recording, planning, informing or training of fire safety procedures, and finally a review is carried out. It is recommended that a fire safety log book is kept by whoever is responsible for carrying out the fire risk assessment.
The direction from the LAS website also points to the legislation stating that ”any such assessment must be reviewed by the responsible person regularly so as to keep it up to date,” so the fire risk assessment needs to be carried out frequently, especially in higher risk properties such as blocks of flats. At Prime Property Management, we have found a number of blocks of flats that were self managed before we took over that lacked fire risk assessments, which exposed tenants to danger of a fire. This is startling, as the non-compliance of the FSO reflects badly on the managing agent, RTM or freeholder in charge of the property. This person must ensure that the risk assessment considers fire extinguishers and fire alarms being provided in the communal areas, that furniture and furnishings provided are fire safe, escape routes are easily accessible, and smoke alarm installation on each floor of the building. Not all of these provisions will always be necessary but they must be considered.
The importance of a fire risk assessment ensures the credibility and legal compliance of the Freeholder, Residents’ Management Company or Right to Manage Company, as well as assuring the safety of tenants in a property. It is of urgency that if you act in any of the above capacities, please carry out a fire risk assessment of your block of flats so that your tenants will not find themselves in a hazardous situation.