Saturday, 7 January 2012

Competency criteria for fire risk assessors released

A document setting out criteria against which the competence of a fire risk assessor can be assessed is now available.
Competency Criteria for Fire Risk Assessors, published by the cross-industry Fire Risk Assessment Council, sets out the criteria that could be used by professional bodies and third party certification bodies to register or certificate fire risk assessors, and by organisations providing fire risk assessment services.
The document sets out broad criteria for fire risk assessors of both “simple buildings” – where the fire risk assessor might, for example, be an employee of the occupier – and “complex buildings”, which will require higher levels of knowledge understanding and preferably experience on the part of the fire risk assessor.
Under the criteria and other than in the case of simple, low risk premises, fire risk assessors would need to show “evidence of specialist training and experience, or membership of a professional body, or certification by a third party certification body.” They would need an appropriate knowledge of:
  • The assessment of risk from fire (appendix A)
  • Applicable legislation (appendix B)
  • Appropriate guidance (appendix C)
  • Behaviour of fire in premises (appendix D)
  • Effects of fire on people and behaviour of people in fire situations (appendix E)
  • Means of escape (appendix F)
  • Fire prevention (appendix G)
  • Fire protection (appendix H – includes passive and active)
  • Management of fire safety (appendix I)
Such knowledge, the document says, can be obtained by academic study, training, working alongside others, short courses, continuing professional development or any combination of these.
“Some members of the business community have suggested that it would be helpful for those who want to use the services of a commercial fire risk assessor to be able to access information on those with an appropriate level of competency in fire risk assessment, to help them comply with the legislation,” says the foreword to the document.
“There has also been growing concern regarding the competence of those who provide these fire risk assessments on a commercial basis (i.e. for a fee). Data from the English fire and rescue service suggests that the main compliance failure leading to enforcement action is a failure by duty holders to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. This is coupled with the emergence of inadequate fire risk assessments for premises that have suffered multiple fatality fires.”
A companion document to help duty holders assess whether they can undertake fire risk assessments in-house or whether they should appoint an external specialist will be available shortly.

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