We are all aware that Fire Risk Assessments are legally required but did you know that there are different types of risk assessment that can be carried out?
The current guidance endorsed by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) ‘Fire Safety in Purpose Built Blocks of Flats’, issued by the Local Government Association in 2012, identifies 4 types of Fire Risk Assessments; some of which are destructive.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) states that a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) is required in almost all buildings, however, does not go into specific detail about how intrusive or destructive this should be.
The following information attempts to provide some guidance on the 4 different types of Fire Risk Assessments, and explain whether destructive risk assessments are required:
Type 1 Fire Risk Assessments
A type 1 assessment is the most common type of Fire Risk Assessment and is usually sufficient for most purpose-built blocks of flats and conversions. Type 1 is a non-destructive assessment of the common parts of the building, not the private dwellings. In general, access to these occupied areas (such as flats) is not expected or required unless there is there is reason to believe that there may be significant health and safety issues inside. The only exception is where you may have arranged to view the tenant’s front doors as part of the assessment. In some occurrences, the action plan of the Type 1 may recommend one of the other types be carried out. Recommendations of other types of FRAs should be backed up with a clear justification as to why a more intrusive inspection is required.
Type 2 Fire Risk Assessments
Type 2 is similar to type 1 in that it only includes the common parts of the building. However, it involves an element of destructive sampling for which a contractor will normally be required. A Type 2 FRA may be suggested following a Type 1, however, should not be recommended as standard procedure. A Type 2 Fire Risk Assessment is usually a rarity, carried out only if there is good reason to believe there are serious structural flaws that need further investigation due to the risk that this could lead to breaches in compartmentation and the spread of fire throughout the building.
Type 3 Fire Risk Assessments
Type 3 FRAs go beyond the requirements of the law by considering the flats as well as the common parts. Areas such as means of escape, compartmentation between flats and means of fire detection are considered in all areas including the flats. The Type 3 FRA, like the type 1, is non-destructive and is usually considered necessary if it is thought there may be a fire risk inside of the flats. Arranging a Type 3 FRA can be difficult in leaseholder flats and are more easily conducted in vacated flats or where the flat is rented rather under leasehold ownership.
Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments
Type 4 FRAs, like Type 2, include a destructive assessment, however in this case of both the common parts of the building, and the flats. Type 4 FRAs are obviously more complicated than the other types of assessments. As with the Type 3 assessment, access to flats can be difficult and the destructive nature of the assessment will involve a contractor to open up and repair damage after the inspection.