When dealing with HMO Fire risk assessments, we are often asked “what is involved?”
There are many versions of fire risk assessments around and many assessors will explain the requirements in different ways.
We like to keep it simple;
First, is who the occupants are. Students may not appreciate the danger of a fire and are more likely to ignore an alarm activation. Foreign nationals who can’t read, speak or understand English are also of concern. Disabled or mobility impaired occupants must be given specific emergency evacuation plans. The important part of this is to ask the tenants if they have any disablilty or mobility impairments
Next is the fire safety infrastructure, is there a fire alarm, emergency lighting, fire doors and fire extinguishers? A fire alarm is a must as this will alert the presence of a fire, but this needs to be maintained and looked after. Not all HMO’s need emergency, so check the fire risk assessment report. Fire doors are a brilliant piece of kit, when used properly. When correctly installed and closed they can withhold a fire for at least 30 mins, This will give the occupants enough time to escape. Fire doors need to be self-closing, especially on escape routes! Fire extinguishers are a requirement, even if not one is trained to use them.
The condition of the electrical installation is an important part of the fire risk assessment. This test is also called a fixed wire test. A “satisfactory” certificate is a joy to see, but if you have a test of the system completed, make sure you get an C1 or C2 faults repairs. The HMO licencing team will reject the HMO licence application if these fault codes are listed.
The procedure for what the occupants are expected to do is next. Simple evacuation procedures are required to evacuate on alarm are easily understood, but this needs to be displayed and provided on the tenancy agreements. Fire action signage must meet the evacuate plan and these can be placed on the back of the bedroom doors. It is possible to have fire action notices translated into different languages and google translate can be used for induction forms.
The way out (Means of Escape) is key for the safe passage of occupants. All doors entering onto the hall (escape route) need to be self-closing, the electrical cupboard must be able to withhold a fire for 30 minutes if located in the hall. The doors need to have a device called an Easy Open Device (EOD), such as a thumb turn, push bar or push bar to make the exit quick and simple.
Cooking is another important part of the fire risk assessment is an HMO. The filters / cooker must be kept clean of grease deposits.
The fire risk assessment of an HMO is an assessment of the risk to life and not a checklist against compliance with current fire safety legislation.
But please ensure you act of the recommendations on the fire risk assessment. If you are in doubt, ask the assessor to talk you through it!
Or call us! Please also take a look at our testimonials page for HMO Fire Risk Assessments completed in Belfast https://www.fireriskassessmentsni.com/testimonial/
The comments above are an overview of some of the aspects of a fire risk assessment in an HMO and not all considerations are noted above. If you would like more advise, please get in touch.
A link is provided below to the NI Fire & Rescue Service guide on HMO for further information