Fire Risk Assessments for
Apartments and Flats
Fire safety is a vital part of managing flats or apartments, all landlords or building management companies must comply with legislation which states a Fire Risk Assessment of all communal areas is a legal requirement to identify the risks and also to be able to protect against the risks of fire.
Small buildings consisting of ground and no more than one storey above ground:
Small buildings will usually be the least complex in terms of the fire safety systems required, unless the building has been engineered to overcome a particular design issue.
Buildings with a single stair and no more than 3 storeys (or up to 11m), or buildings generally up to 18m above ground will usually require some measure of additional protection to escape routes. There may also be some restriction on the materials used for the façades, subject to the distance between adjacent buildings and boundaries.
High-rise buildings i.e. those with a storey height that exceeds 18m above ground:
High-rise buildings will require additional measures for firefighters which, in the case of new buildings, would ordinarily include protected firefighting shafts including lifts. For buildings that exceed 30m in height, current guidance also requires fire suppression systems and phased evacuation may also be a recommendation. In older existing buildings, these facilities may not all be provided and a thorough assessment of the implications will be required.
Fire risk assessment for communal area of flats
Table of Contents
Carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment for Apartments and Flats – Common questions/Considerations:
Whose responsibility is it to arrange a fire risk assessment of communal areas?
The responsibility to arrange the fire risk assessment in your building lies with the landlord. This could be the owner (freeholder), a Residents’ Management Company, Right to Manage Company, or a managing agent.
A review should also be carried out after the completion of any work to the building to address fire safety concerns.
Fire safety in communal areas.
It is a legal requirement for all blocks of flats (including houses converted into two or more flats) to have a fire risk assessment of the communal areas of flats. A basic fire risk assessment will look at the communal areas and examine the front doors of individual flats.
If there’s reason to doubt the structural fire protection of a block, a more intrusive assessment may be required. This may include opening up the structure of the building to check its fire resistance.
Is there a communal area fire risk assessment template?
A quick search on Google shows there are plenty of residential fire risk assessment templates or Type 1 fire risk assessment templates, and YES, you can do it yourself. After studying the legislation and guides you can then decide if you are the Responsible Person and are competent enough to carry out the fire risk assessment. You must remember however, that as the Responsible Person you will be legally liable if the fire risk assessment is deemed not ‘suitable or sufficient’. It is advisable therefore that you use a qualified fire risk assessor/fire risk assessment company who will have the experience to provide you with the best advice on fire safety.
Is there a requirement for a landlord fire risk assessment?
Yes, legislation requires that a fire risk assessment is carried out in all areas of the landlord’s properties. This process will identify any fire hazards and who is at risk and decide if anything needs to be done to remove or reduce that risk.
The landlords fire risk assessment should reflect the different building types (Fire Risk Assessments – Types 1 to 4 as detailed above) to identify any fire safety risks and to protect against the risk of fire.
Fire safety instructions to tenants.
The fire risk assessment requirements for flats or apartments should be reflected in any fire action instructions given to tenants regarding a block’s fire safety.
With a simpler block, these instructions might take the form of a fire safety notice in communal areas but they might take the form of a bespoke document copied to all residents.
If you are a tenant and are unsure of your block’s fire safety plan, you should contact your landlord, Resident’s Management Company, or agent.
What sort of fire risk assessments for purpose-built flats are there?
There are generally four different fire risk assessment types that can be carried out for a purpose-built block of flats.
In all cases, a block’s landlord is the Responsible Person who must ensure the safety of all the block’s occupants and decide and enact what is necessary to achieve this.
Type 1: Communal parts only, non-destructive
Type 2: Communal parts only, destructive
Type 3: Communal parts and flats, non-destructive
Type 4: Communal parts and flats, destructive
See the FAQs below for a more detailed information on the different ‘Types’ of fire risk assessment.
Fire door regulations in flats of an existing building.
Fire doors are a legal requirement in blocks of flats, each individual flat should be fitted with a certified fire door. They play a crucial role against fire in your block, not just for you, but your neighbours too, they also prevent fire and smoke from spreading to the communal areas and cutting off the escape routes.
You should never alter your front door without taking advice on the implications it would have on fire safety. The door should have a self-closing device fitted to meet current fire safety guidance for flats — you should never remove this. Even altering the letterbox or adding a cat flap can affect the fire safety of your building and the communal escape routes. Always ask permission from your landlord or managing agent first.
How long does a fire risk assessment last?
By law, your landlord or agent should keep the fire risk assessment for your block under review. This is not necessarily the same as repeating the assessment; a shorter review can be made with a repeat at longer intervals.
There are no clear legal requirements set for the timing of reviews and repeat assessments; This depends entirely on the nature, extent, and individual circumstances of the building involved.
How often should a fire risk assessment be reviewed?
General guidance is as follows; for low risk modern low-rise blocks, a review every two years with a new assessment every four years and for higher-risk blocks, you might expect an annual review with a new assessment every three years
Fire Risk Consultancy Services have the knowledge and experience to assist your business to comply with all legal requirements surrounding Fire Safety including the legislation regarding Fire Alarms. Be sure to read our accompanying guides: Guide to Classes of Fire in the UK from A to F, Types of Fire Extinguisher, How Many Fire Extinguishers Do I Need?, AND Fire Alarm System Types, Emergency Lighting, Fire Door Regulations, Fire Safety Signs, also published on this site.
Please take a moment to have a look around our website where you will find related articles and guides to all the services we can provide your business with, from providing Fire Risk Assessments, fire safety training , full advisory service to Articles on Fire Safety Provisions and our Top Fire Safety Tips!
Most Frequently Asked Questions
A fire risk assessment is a legal requirement in the common areas of all blocks of flats e.g. stairways, corridors, landings, etc (including houses converted into two or more flats). A basic fire risk assessment will look at the communal areas and inspect the front doors of individual flats.
Any doubt in the structural fire protection of a building may require a more invasive assessment. This may include opening up the structure of the building to check its fire resistance.
With regard to fire safety, the main legislation is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO). This Order requires landlords to carry out fire risk assessments in the common areas of HMOs, flats, maisonettes, and sheltered accommodation.
Note: In premises occupied by single households, only the HHSRS applies.
The responsibilities have been combined and clarified in the LACoRS Guide ‘Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing’ which applies to owner-occupied, social housing or private rented sector properties such as single-household properties, shared houses, bedsit HMOs, purpose-built flats not in compliance with Building Regulations 1991, sheltered accommodation without care, and some small hostels.
The LACoRS guide is not relevant to properties constructed in accordance to Building Regulations 1991 (unless the premises or its purpose are changed), guest houses, bed and breakfast, hotels, motels, large hostels, family accommodation centres, student halls of residence, holiday chalets and others, for which the Fire Risk Assessment guide applies.
The relevant Acts/statutory instruments are the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in England and Wales, the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 in Scotland, and the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 in Northern Ireland.
A fire risk assessment is a legal requirement. If you are responsible for a building, for example, an employer, owner, or occupier of premises that aren’t a ‘single private dwelling’ (a private home), you need to make sure a suitably competent person completes a fire risk assessment.
In law, the responsibility for fire safety in the shared parts of a building is that of the ‘responsible person’. For blocks of flats or large houses in multiple occupation, this is usually the freeholder or management company.
Type 1 – Common parts only (non-destructive)
This is the most basic Fire Risk Assessment required for satisfying The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Unless there is reason to suspect deficiencies in fire protection, such as inadequate compartmentation then a Type 1 will usually be sufficient for most blocks of purpose-built flats.
Type 2 – Common parts only (destructive)
This Fire Risk Assessment covers the same areas as the Type 1, except that there is a degree of destructive inspection involved, carried out on a sampling basis. This will require a competent contractor to be present, both to gain access to the elements and to make good any damage caused after the investigation.
A Type 2 Fire Risk Assessment is usually a one-off exercise, only carried out if there is a good reason to suspect deficiencies that could lead to the spread of fire.
Type 3 – Common parts and flats (non-destructive)
A Type 3 Fire Risk Assessment includes the work involved in Type 1 but goes beyond the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005 by considering the arrangements for means of escape and fire detection within (at least) a sample of the flats. The inspection of any flat is non-destructive, but the fire resistance of doors to rooms will be part of the assessment.
A Type 3 Fire Risk Assessment may be required if there is reason to suspect serious risk to residents in the event of a fire in their flats, this could be due to the age of a building or due to unauthorised alterations.
Type 4 – Common parts and flats (destructive)
A Type 4 Fire Risk Assessment (the most comprehensive) covers the same areas as the Type 3, except that there will be some destructive inspection required to the common areas and in a sample of the flats. This will require a competent contractor to be present, both to gain access to the elements and to make good any damage caused after the investigation.
This type of inspection would normally only be carried out on unoccupied flats.
A Type 4 Fire Risk Assessment will only be required in a very limited set of circumstances, such as when a new landlord takes over a block of flats where the Fire Safety history is unknown, or where there is reason to suspect serious risk to residents in their flat or a neighbours’ flats.