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Fire risk assessments in high rise flats are crucial for ensuring the safety of occupants and the building itself. They are the base for your building’s fire safety maintenance, ensuring fire risks are appropriately managed and responsible people are held accountable. 
 
In this article we take a closer look at fire risk assessments for high rise flats, legal guidance around the topic and what is covered during these assessments. 

What Are the Fire Safety Risks Associated with High Rise Buildings? 

High rise residential flats are at risk of various fire safety concerns. Those include rapid fire spread, vertical transportation challenges, difficulties with evacuation and more. The height of these buildings makes firefighting operations more difficult, highlighting the importance of robust passive fire protection systems, clear evacuation plans and accessible escape routes. 
 
The devastating fire that destroyed Grenfell Tower and caused 72 casualties in 2017 illustrates the fire safety risks associated with these buildings. 

Are Fire Risk Assessments a Legal Requirement for Residential Flats? 

Under the Fire Safety Order (2005), a fire safety risk assessment is required for all houses of multiple occupants including high rise blocks of flats. This should be carried out by a competent individual to ensure compliance with the regulations and safeguarding from fire risks. 

Whose Responsibility Is It to Carry Out a Fire Risk Assessment in High Rise Flats? 

If you’re the legal owner of a high rise building, arranging regular fire risk assessments and keeping fire safety records is your responsibility. You must also ensure appropriate measures are implemented following the findings of the assessment. 
 
As a building owner you can carry the fire risk assessment by yourself, however, it is highly recommended to get professional guidance on the matter as someone with expertise will be able to pick up on faults you might have missed. 
 
An experienced fire risk assessor will also be able to recommend remedial actions that need to be implemented. Additionally, as the legally responsible person, you will be held liable if the fire risk assessment is considered negligent. 

What Should Be Covered in a Flat Fire Risk Assessment? 

The first aspect covered by a fire risk assessment is how likely is a fire to start as well as the level of risk and actions required to reduce the likelihood of damage in the event of a fire. This includes identifying potential sources of fire as well as fire hazards, such as stored fuel or boiler rooms. 
 
The fire risk assessment will then cover each area of the building individually. This includes but is not limited to communal areas such as hallways, stairwells and entrances. During this close attention is paid to all fire doors and fire suppression systems in the property. If you’re working with a professional assessor they will use their expertise to identify fire risk and make recommendations needed to keep your building compliant with the regulations. 
 
As part of the fire risk assessment, the building’s construction and the number of occupants will also be evaluated. You will need to identify any vulnerable groups of people who might need more time to evacuate such as people with disabilities, elderly occupants or young children. 
 
Finally, the assessment will pinpoint if any staff in the building have appropriate fire safety training. Compliance with the recommended fire prevention standards will also be examined. 

How Often Must Fire Safety in Flats Be Assessed? 

While the regulation doesn't specify a time period for how often a fire risk assessment should be reviewed, it states it needs to be done “regularly”. If a professional is assessing your building, they will recommend a reassessment date based on its risk profile. 
 
Generally, we recommend that you carry out a fire risk assessment if: 
 
There has previously been a fire in the communal part of the building; 
Significant construction work has recently been carried out on the building; 
You recently took ownership of the building and unable to source a record of previous fire risk assessments; 
There have been more occupants since the last assessment. 
 
We recommend consulting a specialist, if you’re not sure whether your building requires a fire risk assessment. 

Ensure Your Fire Safety Is Up to Standard with GRJ Surveying 

GRJ Surveying helps building owners across the UK take care of fire safety in high rise buildings. As experts in passive fire protection we understand the importance of regularly surveying those residential buildings and offer a complete solution. 
 
Our services cover commercial fire inspections, fire compartmentation and fire door surveys. Our team of experienced surveyors can inspect your building, highlighting issues that need to be addressed urgently. Based on our findings, we can also advise on the steps needed to ensure your building is compliant. We can even carry out the remedial works, making sure no detail is overlooked. 
 
We work on large scale projects with a broad portfolio of clients including Kier, Willmott Dixon and BAM, so no job is too big for us. Our surveyors are also accredited under multiple third-party accreditation schemes including IFC, ASFP, Constructionline, BM TRADA and more. 
 
Contact the GRJ team to enquire about our services. 
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GRJ SURVEYING 
At GRJ Surveying, we provide that peace of mind and to maintain building compliance we can offer a service to attend site on a routine basis to survey passive fire protection to both fire walls and floors, completing any necessary firestopping works found following additional service installations or modifications. Our business operates nationwide in a variety of sectors including, education, commercial, health care, residential, MOD & MOJ. With expertise in fire protection through the installation of passive fire protection materials and systems, to create fire containment protecting life safety. 
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