Do you carry out Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments?
One of the questions we are being asked more recently is whether or not we carry out Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments. The answer to this is yes. However, there is a lot to consider before instructing an intrusive risk assessment in your property.
What exactly are Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments?
The most common type of Fire Risk Assessment is the Type 1; which is non-destructive and of the common areas only.
Type 1 Risk Assessments are usually sufficient for most blocks of flats and you would have probably had one carried out fairly recently.
Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) however, include an intrusive assessment of both the common parts of the building and inside of the tenant’s demise. They are often referred to as a Compartmentation Survey, as they are usually suggested if there may be serious defects such as inadequate compartmentation and fire stopping.
Why are they becoming more popular/ asked about?
Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments are becoming more prevalent, particularly after the Grenfell tragedy. This is mostly due to the recommendations from the Hackitt Review and the Building a safer future: proposals for the reform of the building regulatory system: Consultation. For example, one of the recommendations from the ‘Building a Safer Future’ Consultation is to ensure “that fire compartmentation from the inside of a flat, including the front doors, is maintained to a suitable standard…” Type 4 FRAs may well be needed to determine further works to improve compartmentation, additional fire stopping measures or improvements to protect the means of escape from smoke or fire.
Concerns may be originally raised in the type 1 FRA about the compartmentation, especially in areas that cannot be easily accessed such as: ceilings, under floor boards, roof voids, risers, service cupboards or boiler rooms. In circumstances such as these, there may be reason to believe there is high risk of fire spread in both the private and common areas of the property and therefore a more intrusive assessment may be needed.
Furthermore, if a new landlord takes over a site that has little or no history of the construction and consequently no information on the compartmentation or fire stopping, they may ask that a Type 4 Fire Risk Assessment is carried out.
Dame Judith Hackitt has specified that there is a need to ensure that sufficient information is recorded throughout a building’s life cycle; known as the ‘Golden Thread of Information’. Some examples of the information that should be recorded, maintained and available include: full material and manufacturer product information, design intent and construction methodology, and escape and fire compartmentation information.
What do you need to consider?
A Type 4 Risk Assessment may be completely necessary in some circumstances, however, there are still some aspects to consider before you instruct one to be carried out.
For instance, the disruption to residents, the overall cost vs. benefit, and whether you will be able to gain access to the necessary flats.
Type 4 FRAs are more complicated than the other types of assessments. Access to flats can be difficult and the intrusive nature of the assessment will involve a contractor to open up and repair damage after the inspection.
In addition to this, if the building was constructed prior to 2000 it may contain asbestos and this will need to be carefully considered before any destructive works are carried out. If the building is Pre 2000 if it is then you must carry out a Refurbishment and Demolition (R&D) Asbestos Survey. An R&D survey (previously known as a type 3 survey) is required when materials are being disturbed as part of a refurbishment, demolition project (or other types of construction work any intrusive works). This type of survey is fully intrusive and the building or areas which are being surveyed will usually need to be vacated so that extensive surveying and samples can be taken.