Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. What is a fire risk assessment (FRA)?
- 2. Questions about the assessments
- 3. FRAs for high rise buildings
1. What is a fire risk assessment (FRA)?
Fire risk assessments are required to be carried out by landlords to establish what they need to do to prevent fire and keep people safe.
They will normally involve an inspection of the communal areas of a building which will identify any work that needs to be carried out to improve fire safety.
As we're defined as the responsible person in law, we must carry out and regularly review FRAs of all council-owned premises.
During a FRA, aspects such as sources of ignition, fire protection measures and the following areas will be included in the assessment:
- sources of Ignition eg cooking, smoking, electrics, arson, portable appliances
- hazards introduced by outside contractors
- means of escape from fire eg emergency routes and exits (ensuring they are adequate for the building, its use and occupancy and kept clear)
- measures to limit fire spread eg compartmentation, combustibles on communal areas
- emergency lighting
- safety signage
- means of giving warning in fire eg detection and warning systems
- firefighting equipment eg manual, automatic and fixed smoke ventilation and clearance systems
- staff training and recording eg the needs of those considered most vulnerable such as the disabled, elderly and children
- testing and maintenance.
2. Questions about the assessments
Which areas of a block of flats are inspected for the purposes of the FRA?
The statutory requirement only specifies that an inspection of the common areas is undertaken (eg corridors, staircases, lobbies) and, as a general rule, a fire risk assessment of common parts will be adequate for most buildings.
However, where there is any reason to question the fire resistance of external walls or panels, or any other separation elements found inside the building, an appropriate compartmentation survey will be undertaken.
This is particularly important in the case of converted buildings, timber framed structures and any structure that has been subject to major refurbishment or other intrusive work over the past few years. Or in cases of vulnerability, mobility or hoarding a sanctioned internal FRA will be done.
Does every block of flats managed by Lambeth have an FRA?
Yes, over 2,800 FRAs are conducted and they are regularly reviewed.
We have taken a decision to undertake more complex FRAs to our high rise blocks which had some form of cladding, which has involved fire safety inspections within flats and externally. These types of fire risk assessments are known as FRA3/4s.
We have published the FRA3/4s for high rise blocks (six plus storeys with cladding) in the section FRAs for high rise buildings.
We have a very large number of council properties and have always been transparent in providing a copy of the general FRA for any block on request. You can do this by applying online. It may take up to 30 days to send you the FRA and we ask for your patience once you have submitted a request.
How often does an FRA need to be carried out?
We undertake yearly assessments for our:
- high rise blocks (blocks of six storeys and above)
- sheltered housing units
- tenants and resident community halls
- extra care unit.
All other sites are inspected regularly, based on the building risk rating. For those sites, the time between assessments can vary from one and four years as per risk matrix grading. This is acceptable to the enforcing authority (London Fire Brigade) who we work very closely with on all fire safety matters.
There is no defined statutory timescale as to how often buildings should be assessed. However, the assessment should be regularly reviewed often enough to keep the assessment up to date with any changes to the risks to the premises.
Some significant changes to the fire-risk in a block, may be for example:
- the completion of major or capital works
- a query from an individual that raises genuine safety concerns
- a report from contractors or other staff that highlights dangers.
Other factors such as to the introduction of new legislative guidance or management procedures may trigger a review, meaning a fire risk assessment is a continuous process, that is audited externally as well as quality checked by a 10 per cent internal audit of a random sample of FRA’s as mandatory.
Any properties that require re-assessment before their cyclical due-date are logged on a master index and records are shared amongst relevant departments.
We continuously check the validity of each fire risk assessment and where any of the ‘trigger points’ mentioned above are highlighted then more detailed evaluation of the site will be conducted.
What information is given to the council that is not given to residents?
The information you see on the FRA is the same information given to everyone else in the council. We do not withhold any information and this document provides full accountability.
Who carries out the FRAs?
We have our own in-house, Fire Safety Team, and we employ independent certified contractors to conduct fire risk assessments. The documents below state the name of the individual who assessed the building and the date the fire risk assessment was completed.
I have considered my general FRA1 - Why are there still a number of tasks shown as outstanding on the FRA?
Different tasks are given different ratings and timescales in which they should be completed. We understand the need to comply with any tasks associated with fire safety as quickly as possible.
In some cases however, by the time you view the document online, or following a request for the FRA, some of the outstanding tasks may have been completed, but not yet updated on the public copy of the assessment.
The FRA you have viewed is in a PDF format and will not necessarily show the very latest updates as tasks are being actioned continuously. We have our own copy of the documents you are viewing and ensure the ones on the website or sent to you are updated to reflect when tasks have been resolved as soon as possible.
I live in the block and have noted an issue that is not in the FRA?
The FRA is a snapshot in time and will only account for what the assessor noted at the time of their audit.
The responsibility for fire safety is all of ours and not only do we expect council staff to report any issues during their checks and walkabouts but we expect residents to report issues too, and take steps to manage fire safety as set out below. We must ensure that everyone works together to keep our buildings safe.
What can I do to keep my building safe from fire?
Unfortunately, we do still sometimes have fires in our blocks.
Purpose designed blocks are designed so that each flat is a compartment and will keep that fire from spreading to a neighbouring flat for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
To keep you, your family, friends and neighbours safe, please follow these simple rules:
Keep common areas clear so that should residents need to escape a fire in an emergency, or firefighters need to enter the building, they are able to do so without blockages to escape routes. The removal of all items from the escape routes will help to ensure sources of fuel are removed and or trip hazards are eliminated.
Where your door is fitted with a self closing device, do not remove it. If it is faulty please report it on 020 7926 6000 This ensures a fire is confined to a flat/room of origin and does not spread into the common areas.
Report any fire safety defects such as a fire door not closing properly to us on 020 7926 6000.
Keep your internal doors shut at night. Any door - provided it is good fitting - will keep a fire contained in a room whilst you make your escape from your home.
Don't store white goods such as fridges, freezers, washing machines etc. in your hallway at home. Do not charge electrical items in this area, particularly while you are asleep.
Please be careful if you use candles or tea-lights, this is a very common cause of fires at home. Ensure that you never leave a burning candle unattended if you smoke, please make sure you extinguish cigarettes properly.
Don't overload electrical sockets.
Test your smoke detectors weekly. If you do not have a smoke detector contact the London Fire Brigade on 0800 028 4428. They will fit a free smoke detector and give you home fire safety advice.
Don't park your vehicle such that it blocks a fire hydrant, riser inlet, fire exit or in a place which is likely to prevent easy access for a fire engines or emergency vehicles to your home or estate.
Take your rubbish directly to the bins provided. Don't leave rubbish in the communal areas or outside the building where it can be subject to arson. Don’t dump it, bin it.
If you have a private balcony, keep combustibles to an absolute minimum.
If you are concerned about fire safety for vulnerable neighbour e.g. elderly, immobile, ill, mental health issues, etc. then please report to your estate housing officer.
Ensure you know the building evacuation policy and make yourself familiar with all escape routes – not just the entrance doors you use regularly, but back and less used fire exit routes.
Attend your tenant and residents’ meetings, be informed and talk to your resident services officer to ensure you are involved with decisions about your estate.
Guidance on leaseholder obligations can be found in the fire safety guide for leaseholders
3. FRAs for high rise buildings
Housing officers have visited to inspect the communal areas and identify high priority blocks to check current fire risk assessments, accelerate required safety work and ask the fire brigade to inspect.