A Fire Safety Audit is a crucial process conducted by a fire safety specialist, whether active or passive, who visits a commercial site to assess the existing fire safety, suppression, and prevention systems in place. This audit not only examines the current measures implemented but also evaluates what additional measures should be adopted to ensure adequate and compliant protection in case of a fire. The report generated from the audit focuses primarily on areas of non-compliance, providing a comprehensive list of recommendations to address these shortcomings.
By conducting a thorough Fire Safety Audit, which includes an examination of your workplace and relevant documents, you can ascertain whether your premises adheres to the standards specified in the Fire Services Act, 1981 & 2003, as well as other applicable statutory legislation and requirements. This ensures compliance and promotes a safe working environment for all individuals on the premises.
What is included in a fire safety audit?
Each company will differ in the specifics of what they offer outside of the core audit, but most specialists will offer either some or all of the following:
- Comprehensive Fire Audit Report
- Fire safety policy.
- Staff fire safety training records (including induction, refresher courses, and fire extinguisher training).
- Emergency evacuation plan and fire drill records.
- Fire risk assessment report, outlining significant findings and appropriate measures.
- Fire alarm system test records were conducted by both management and a competent engineer.
- Emergency lighting system test records are carried out by both management and a competent engineer.
- Fire extinguisher test records were conducted by a competent person.
- Fixed electrical wiring test record for the building performed by a competent person.
- Portable Appliance Test (PAT) records for electrical equipment, conducted by a competent person.
What is the purpose of a fire safety audit?
The purpose of a fire safety audit is of course to ensure a building has sufficient fire safety measures in place to ensure that every precaution has been taken to prevent loss of life and damage to the building and business. Supplementary to this, a fire safety audit will highlight any areas that are not compliant and offer solutions to make them so.
How do you perform a fire safety audit?
A fire safety audit needs to be conducted by a third party and therefore non-boost outside specialist. Two audits will often take place, one for passive fire prevention installations and one for active fire measures.
What are the questions on a fire audit?
Although every company will have their own specific set of questions, they will all follow a similar style and will be something akin to:
- Is there a documented fire safety policy in place?
- Has a comprehensive fire risk assessment been conducted for the premises?
- Are there appropriate emergency plans and procedures in case of a fire?
- Are fire evacuation routes clearly marked and easily accessible?
- Are fire exits unobstructed and in good working condition?
- Are there adequate fire detection and alarm systems installed and regularly maintained?
- Is there a well-maintained and tested fire suppression system (e.g., sprinklers) if required?
- Are there sufficient and properly maintained firefighting equipment (e.g., fire extinguishers) available in strategic locations?
- Are there appropriate measures in place to prevent or control fire hazards (e.g., storage of flammable materials, electrical safety)?
- Are there proper systems for staff training and awareness in fire safety and evacuation procedures?
- Have regular fire drills been conducted, and are there records of these drills?
- Are there records of maintenance and testing for fire safety equipment, such as fire alarms, emergency lighting, and firefighting equipment?
- Have any significant findings or non-compliance issues from previous fire audits been addressed?
- Are there designated individuals responsible for fire safety management and emergency response?
- Are there records of any incidents or near misses related to fire safety?
The purpose of these questions is to allow the auditor to assess an individual(s) or company(s) fire safety readiness. The auditor will also walk around the site and physically inspect what fire safety installations are or are not in place.
What are the major components of a safety audit?
A safety audit involves a structured approach that can be divided into the following steps:
Planning the Audit
The first step in a review is establishing an audit plan, including the formation of an audit team, determining the scope of the audit, and identifying the specific areas within the workplace or job site that will be targeted for evaluation.
The second stage is information gathering. The auditor will need to obtain relevant information and documentation related to safety protocols, procedures, and practices. This may include safety manuals, incident reports, training records, and relevant regulatory requirements.
Conducting On-Site Inspections
The audit team performs thorough on-site inspections to assess the physical conditions, work processes, equipment, and overall safety culture of the workplace. This involves observing work activities, interviewing employees, and examining safety equipment and facilities.
During this phase, the auditor or auditor team compares the observed practices and conditions against established safety standards, regulations, and internal policies. Any deviations or non-compliance are noted and documented.
The collected data and audit findings are analysed to identify trends, root causes of safety issues, and areas of improvement. This helps in developing recommendations and corrective actions to address identified gaps and enhance safety performance.
A comprehensive report is prepared which summarises the audit findings, including strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for improvement. The report may include observations, non-compliance issues, best practices, and suggested strategies to mitigate risks and enhance safety.
Implementing Corrective Actions
The next step is to offer solutions to any areas of the commercial site that have had problems identified. A plan is then developed to address the identified gaps and implement corrective actions. This may involve revising policies, providing additional training, upgrading safety equipment, or making physical modifications to the workplace.
Monitoring and Follow-up
Once the recommendations from the audit have been actioned, it’s your chosen provider’s job to then monitor and follow up to ensure continuity of the fire protection plan.
What is the difference between a Fire Safety Audit and a Fire Risk Assessment?
A Fire Safety Audit primarily emphasises areas of non-compliance rather than compliance, serving as a valuable report or snag list to address identified issues.
A Fire Risk Assessment considers both compliance and non-compliance aspects, providing a more balanced approach by highlighting both positive and negative observations.
While a Fire Risk Assessment presents a comprehensive view, a Fire Safety Audit takes a direct and concise approach, specifically pointing out any shortcomings.
How often should an organisation carry out a Fire Safety Audit?
Most organisations will conduct a fire safety audit on an annual basis. Depending on site size you may need to audit more regularly, larger organisations with high staff levels should audit twice a year as an absolute minimum.
How long does a Fire Safety Audit take?
It really comes down to the size and amount of sites that need to be audited. On average the site visit will take between 3 – 5 hours and the report is ordinarily within 5 – 10 working days after the visit.
Who requires a Fire Safety Audit?
Every business throughout Ireland has a legal, social and moral obligation to ensure that its building is kept compliant with safety regulations. Although a fire safety audit is not a legal requirement, the building being kept compliant is.
If a building is found to be non-compliant and a fire breaks out, the building owner can find themselves facing civil or even criminal charges.
For Further Information
- The Association for Specialist Fire Protection — Ireland provides information about passive fire protection on their webpage at http://www.asfpireland.ie
- Bord Gáis Networks safety webpage including Dial Before You Dig
- Building Regulations 2006 – Technical Guidance Document B gives guidance on how to construct a building to comply with fire safety building regulation
Passive Fire Protection Dublin
Firestoppers is a market leader in the field of passive fire protection, with over 100 years of combined experience. As a licensed fire protection specialist we are able to provide any business with the fire protection that they need to protect the building and any staff within it.
Firestoppers offer a comprehensive fire safety audit which will not only provide insight on how to protect your premises but will also insight on how to prepare safety policies and evacuation plans.
If you would like to discuss your fire protection or book an audit in, please contact us today for a free consultation.