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Carrying out a fire risk assessment is the best way of ensuring a venue is fire-safe and prepared for an emergency. It’s also a legal requirement, regardless of whether it’s a purpose-built event space, an organised event in the outdoors, or a temporary marquee hosting an event.

Failure to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 could result in a fine or imprisonment, but can also put lives and livelihoods at unnecessary risk. Stuart Collyer of Fire Protection Online shares tips of the trade.

Event organiser have two choices. Either carry this out within the company or hire a professional risk assessor for peace of mind.

Spot the hazards
The first step is to look around the venue and make a note of potential fire risks – these will be things that can burn and the things that could start a fire – and then make sure they are kept separate as much as possible.

For example, this would mean keeping heaters and generators away from cardboard and fabric, smoking areas away from rubbish, and cooking equipment away from alcohol and cleaning products.

Think who’s at risk
At an event, the people who are going to be affected by a fire are those attending, or the staff, volunteers and contractors working the event. And for those with mobility issues or needing help making their escape, special provisions may need to be put in place.

Additionally, think about the number of people who can attend the event. The maximum number of people is determined by the number, location and size of the emergency exits.

Each exit with a width of 1.05 metres will accommodate up to 160 people, an exit width of 1.65m allows up to 240 people, and a width of 1.95m allows up to 320 people through each door.

Evaluate and act
When you know the risks, you can then put measures in place to reduce them.

Indoors, a fire alarm system will detect then alert you to threats, being mindful that heat detectors will reduce the risk of false alarms. Outside, and in temporary venues, fire bells, megaphones and air horns will raise the alarm.

It’s vital to have fire extinguishers too. One water-based extinguisher (water or foam) of three litres or more will cover 200 square metres of floor space. Although for specific threats, such as flammable liquids and electrical equipment, the appropriate fire extinguisher will need to be kept close to the hazard.

Make a plan
What should everyone do in an emergency? Now is when you clearly state the best emergency exit routes, where the assembly point is, and who calls the fire brigade.

Plus, the number of attendants on duty also restricts the number of people who can attend, and these people need to have received fire wardens’ training so they can act correctly and calmly in an emergency.

It’s recommended by the fire service to review a fire risk assessment annually, and it also needs to be kept up to date with any changes in operations or layout of the venue.