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North Ayrshire Council – Fire Risk Assessment Case Study

North Ayrshire Council is one of 32 council areas in Scotland. It covers 885.4 km2, containing the towns of Ardrossan, Beith, Dalry, Kilbirnie, Kilwinning, Largs, Saltcoats, Skelmorlie, Stevenston, and West Kilbride, as well as the Isle of Arran and the Cumbrae Isles.

The Council possesses a large, diverse property portfolio. They are responsible for health and safety in primary schools, sheltered housing units, young persons residential units, libraries, community centres, day services, training facilities, street scene depots, horticultural nurseries, and criminal justice social work services.

A crucial part of maintaining health and safety in this range of properties is managing fire safety. This is a huge task when considering such a wide variety of, often large scale, properties. Not only  does it mean taking into account the many different kinds of hazards that may be present, and implementing ways to try to limit the associated dangers as much as possible, but it means maintaining a huge number of fire doors, fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, emergency lighting systems, and fire fighting equipment. It also means arranging and monitoring the training of hundreds of members of staff in fire safety. 

All of these procedures are particularly important given that in many of North Ayrshire Council’s locations – such as in sheltered housing units and youth residential units, day services, and primary schools – vulnerable people will be present.

Our challenge

North Ayrshire Council needed comprehensive fire risk assessments done for 125 of their sites throughout North Ayrshire, and they needed them to be completed within a 6-month timescale. 

For an additional 6 sites, a fire risk assessment had been done recently and so in order to be legally compliant they needed an annual fire risk assessment review to be conducted.

North Ayrshire Council also had specific requests about how the reporting needed to be done in order to meet their requirements. 

Given the scale of the project and the logistics involved, they needed to be able to monitor progress at all times so that they could see where we were in the schedule and what was coming up.

Our solution

For the 6 properties that had had a fire risk assessment done recently, Amalgamate conducted a fire risk assessment review, helping to ensure that the fire risk assessment for these properties was a live document by highlighting any new actions that needed taking.

For the remaining 125 properties we conducted comprehensive, PAS-79 compliant fire risk assessments. These involved:

  • Looking at any potential fire hazards in the building, from electrical sources of ignition, portable heaters, fixed heating installations, and cooking appliances, to what dangerous substances were being stored, the state of housekeeping, if a lightning conductor was in place, and what potential there was for wilful fire raising;
  • Examining what active and passive measures for fire protection were in place, including means of escape, measures to limit fire spread and development, emergency escape lighting, fire safety signs, giving warning in the case of a fire, and fire extinguishers;
  • Analysing what procedures were in place for safety management, such as how often training and fire drills take place, if there are assigned fire wardens, what the testing and maintenance regimes are for fire detection systems, alarm systems, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, and fire exit doors; and 
  • Verifying what records were being kept of fire drills, staff training, and testing regimes.

Our assessors were true experts in fire prevention – former fire officers, with experience and qualifications in a range of specialist subjects, including fire regulations, human behaviour in fire situations, and fire alarm systems.

Their level of expertise allowed them to go above and beyond the standard information covered under the PAS-79 fire risk assessment – ensuring that North Ayrshire Council were meeting legal requirements – enabling them to give advice on best practice.

Throughout the process the Amalgamate team had regular meetings with the members of the Council overseeing the fire risk assessments to make sure that everything being done was meeting their requirements and to make them aware of any particular concerns. 

Any severe problems that our assessors came across on site were immediately reported to the relevant people on site and at the Council.

Amalgamate managed all of the timing of the process, remaining flexible enough throughout that if a fire risk assessment needed to be done urgently this could be pushed to the top of the schedule.

For each of the sites Amalgamate drew up a clear action plan detailing any hazards found, the action that should be taken, and the timescales that action should be taken within. This enabled North Ayrshire Council to see at a glance what needed to be done at each of their properties and when it needed to be done by, making it easy for them to then monitor their own progress in making the necessary changes. We also wrote an executive summary for each of the properties that highlighted the crucial points for their attention.

If you would like more information about this project and our fire safety consultancy services, contact us:

T. +44 (0)141 244 0181
E. info@amalgamate-safety.com

Amalgamate Safety