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Fire Risk Assessment Council announced at AGM

Fire Risk Assessment Council announced at AGM

Colin Todd to the members as the new Chairman of the Fire Risk Assessment Council, conducting an interview with Colin to identify some of the issues behind the formation of the Council and looking ahead to the areas that it would be addressing going forward.

In setting the scene, Colin focused on the market being unsure about fire risk assessment and indeed on what responsibilities are now faced under the Fire Safety Order, the legislation which has placed such an emphasis on risk assessment - "The key word is uncertainty but then that's true about a lot of things about the Fire Safety Order. There is a lot of uncertainty out there about what is a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment, who is competent to carry out a fire risk assessment. A lot of these things really go to the ultimate quality of the fire risk assessment."

Colin, a Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE), highlighted the scale of the problem, commenting that - "It is a matter of public record that the IFE, with their register of fire risk assessors and auditors, actually rejects 40% of applicants... It is quite frightening that 40% of people who clearly think that they are doing it perfectly adequately are probably not, or certainly in view of the IFE are not... The Fire Risk Assessment Council can assist in trying to drill down and help with an understanding of what is a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and who is responsible to carry it out."

The vital role that risk assessment has to play in the current fire safety regime, and the potentially dire consequences of getting it wrong, was a point also highlighted by Colin - "Fire safety in buildings is now underpinned by the fire risk assessment carried out by the duty holder and if we get that wrong, or if the duty holder gets it wrong, I suppose potentially we are on the road to disaster... At this current time I am engaged as an expert witness in the prosecution of a duty holder who allegedly got it very wrong with their risk assessment and people died."

Martin Harvey spoke of the liaison with the fire and rescue service as key, a point acknowledged by Colin, citing "... The views of CFOA and Iain Cox in particular who felt that the FIA is an organisation with which CFOA can engage" as a significant factor in his decision to take on the Chairman's role.

In his address as the FIA Chairman, at the lunch which followed the AGM, Martin Harvey returned to the issue of the new Risk Assessment Council, welcoming those in attendance from fire risk assessment organisations who were amongst the more than 50 new members to have joined the FIA.

Graham Ellicott, CEO of the FIA, also welcomed the significant progress that has already been made - "It was vital that the new Council was headed up by somebody who not only has the all important independence required by the role, but also extensive experience in fire risk assessment and Colin is the ideal candidate on both fronts. One of the first steps of the new Council is to establish membership criteria based on proof of competence. This in itself will help to clarify the situation and remove some of the uncertainty that undoubtedly exists. We are conscious that many of the potential member companies are relatively small so we appreciate that the FIA will need to help some of them meet the standards that are set for membership. We are committed to doing this, recognising that this will help to raise the professionalism of risk assessment through best practice and third party certification at a time when we cannot afford to ignore its fundamental role in fire safety in general."

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