FRA COVID-19 advice given
THE INSTITUTE of Fire Safety Managers (IFSM) and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) separately noted recommendations on continuing with fire risk assessments (FRAs).
In a press statement, the IFSM noted that it had ‘received a few queries’ asking if fire risk assessors and ‘those linked with the fire industry’ were classed as key workers, and referred those asking to the government, as the IFSM’s ‘clear position is in supporting the government and the main information and guidance for employees’, adding it was ‘not in a position to make individual judgements’.
However, ‘clearly, we are all in the business of assessing risk and therefore that call has to be with yourself, and if fire life safety issues outweigh, in any single case, the threat to life from COVID-19 then the judgement has to rest with the individual assessor’. On that point, it added that ‘the call should be “is my movement and task essential to support critical infrastructure?”’, stating that if not, IFSM advice is ‘do not travel, stay at home and support crucial national infrastructure in this way’.
It concluded by stating that ‘rest assured, council members are taking this “time out” to work from our isolated position on some critical details and papers which will define the future of fire risk assessment, fire risk assessors’ competency and fire risk assessors themselves’. SFRS in turn advised businesses to review FRAs after the national lockdown, recognising that ‘any businesses still open’, such as supermarkets or distribution centres, ‘may have additional stock and people working’.
This could ‘adversely effect means of escape and staff understanding of safety measures’, and for businesses forced to close, fire risk ‘should be mitigated by completing full shut down procedures’, such as isolating electrical items, while arson risk ‘should be reduced by ensuring premises are secure, with any rubbish, bins or skips moved away from buildings’. SFRS also discouraged those self isolating ‘from doing so in a place of work that may not have been designed for sleeping’.
Matt White, SFRS fire safety lead, commented: ‘Under the current Covid-19 guidance, we continue to respond to serious fire safety concerns, however we are calling on business owners to assist in ensuring fire safety standards are maintained while businesses are not operating as they normally would.
‘Compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is still of upmost importance to protect businesses and people from fire. For those businesses open, simple tests to check the escape route is clear and accessible at all times must be completed as well as measures to ensure there are adequately trained staff on site at all times.
‘The fire safety measures within buildings are designed for their specific use and often do not include people sleeping. It may therefore not have the necessary fire safety measures installed to make this a safe practice.’