PAS 79 – Fire Risk Assessment Guidance and Recommended Methodology

PAS 79 was first published in 2005, revised in 2007, and most recently in 2012. It lays out a specific methodology that can be used as guidance when conducting a fire risk assessment. PAS stands for Publicly Available Specification. It’s was not originally a British Standard. However, the British Standards Institution has both developed and published it.

PAS 79 focuses on making sure that all the required information that pertains to both a fire risk assessment and the findings are recorded. The specific needs to both carry out fire risk assessments and then document any significant findings from said assessments are crucial to existing fire law.

PAS 79 lays out a particular way to carry out your fire risk assessment. It’s intended to see use in producing a basic and qualitative assessment of risk from fire in a location. It’s aimed essentially at providing a service to individuals, and professionals, like fire risk assessors. When you insist that your consultant stick to the PAS 79 approach, you can rest assured that anyone undertaking a fire risk assessment is following a reputable methodology that ensures a comprehensive report which covers all the bases of fire safety.

Alternate methodologies can be better choices in specific circumstances, however, such as quantitative risk assessment. On the other hand, in our experiences, PAS 79 proves usable for all sizes of buildings and in many kinds of premises including:

The approach behind PAS 79 is a system of evaluation covering many factors which decide fire hazard, ranging from any likelihood of there being a fire to the actual consequences of one occurring.

PAS 79 outlines nine distinct steps for carrying out a thorough fire risk assessment:

  1. Obtaining information and data about the building, including the processes carried out in the structure as well as people either present or likely to be
  2. Identification of both fire hazards but also means for their control or elimination
  3. Assessment of the likelihood of any fire
  4. Determination of any fire protection measures present
  5. Obtaining related information regarding fire safety management
  6. An assessment of the most likely repercussions to individuals if a fire happens
  7. Assessment of overall fire risk
  8. Formulation and documentation of an action plan
  9. A defined date by which a fire risk assessment needs to be reviewed

PAS 79 involves a format for reporting the records of a fire risk assessment. This goes in a simplistic pro-forma style, laying out a concluding action plan that lays out any recommendations. It’s not intended to serve as a check list, but it will add tick boxes which can confirm that any necessary items were taken into consideration. The PAS 79 documentation format is thought of by the Chief Fire Officers’ Association as a suitable format for the recording of findings of significance in a suitably sufficient fire risk assessment.

The purpose of a fire risk assessment is to identify the fire hazards, identify people at risk, evaluate, remove or reduce the risks, record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and support with training requirements.

The the fire risk assessor will reference a question template when completing the assessment, the completed report or survey can document the following examples.

  • Electrical sources of ignition
  • Smoking
  • Arson/wilful fire raising
  • Portable heaters and heating installations
  • Cooking
  • Lightning
  • Housekeeping
  • Hazards introduced by outside contractors and builders
  • Dangerous substances
  • Other significant fire hazards
  • Means of escape from fire
  • Measures to limit fire spread and development
  • Emergency escape lighting
  • Fire safety signs and notices
  • Means of giving warning in case of fire
  • Manual fire extinguishing appliances
  • Relevant automatic fire extinguishing systems
  • Other relevant fixed systems and equipment
  • Management of fire safety procedures and arrangements
  • Training and drills
  • Testing and maintenance
  • Records

For fire risk assessment guidance and recommended methodology, please see the PAS 79 Fire Risk Assessment documentation available at the British Standards Institution (BSI) website.

Fire Safety Law

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is the law that covers general fire safety in England and Wales.

In Scotland, Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 covers requirements on general fire safety, supported by the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

As employers (or building owners or occupiers) you’re known as the ‘responsible person’ and you must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date.

Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.

Your fire risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start, i.e. sources of ignition (heat or sparks) and substances that burn, and the people who may be at risk.

Fire Risk Assessment Overview

The video below provides an overview of the fire risk assessment background and process involved in completing a fire risk assessment

Fire Risk Assessor Training

Various Fire Risk Assessor training courses are available. The Fire Industry Association offer the course below.

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