The 4 Types of Fire Risk Assessment Explained

All owners of non-domestic premises in England and Wales are required under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to take steps to prevent fires, and to protect visitors and employees against death and injury in the event of a fire.

The Order applies to almost all buildings, places and structures aside from individual private homes, i.e. individual flats in a block, or family homes. This may include offices, shops, warehouses and factories. Other places covered by the Order include common areas within houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), plus blocks of flats and maisonettes.

Photo illustrating firefighters in training by Matt C

Fire risk assessments – legal obligations

There is a legal requirement under the Order to undertake a fire safety risk assessment. The objective of the assessment is to identify the risks and hazards within a property. 

Whoever is responsible for the premises is also responsible for making sure that fire risk assessments are completed by a competent person. For workplaces with five or more employees, or where a business has a licence under enactment in force, the fire risk assessment must be recorded.

For blocks of flats, there are four types of fire risk assessment. The type required depends on the nature of the building, what it is used for, and what is identified during the inspections.

What are the 4 types of fire risk assessment for blocks of flats?

A fire safety risk assessment looks at the risk of a fire occurring within a building, the risks to occupants should a fire occur, and the measures in place to prevent a fire. The assessment will also note any extra measures required to improve the building’s fire safety, whilst reducing occupants’ risk.

There are four main types of fire risk assessments for residential blocks, with a type 4 fire risk assessment being the most detailed.

Type 1 fire risk assessment (common parts, non-destructive)

A type 1 fire risk assessment is the most basic required under the Fire Safety Order, with the inspection of the building considered ‘non-destructive’.

These types of fire risk assessments involve checking that the common parts of a building have arrangements in place for occupants to escape in the event of a fire, such as clear signage indicating entry and exit points, and functional emergency lighting. They also involve carrying out an examination of the entry and exit points of doors to flats. There is no need, however, for access to individual flats in order to carry out a type 1 fire risk assessment.

The results of a type 1 fire risk assessment may reveal the need for further, more detailed types of fire risk assessments. Where this is the case, the assessment report will list the reasons for the requirement.

Type 2 fire risk assessment (common parts, destructive)

A type 2 fire risk assessment is normally only recommended when a type 1 fire risk assessment indicates that there may be serious structural flaws within a building, which may increase the risk of fire spreading.

Unlike a type 1 assessment which is non-destructive in nature, a type 2 fire risk assessment involves destructive sampling. It may call for a contractor to open up parts of the building, and then return them to their original condition once the assessment is complete.

Due to the type 2 fire risk assessment being destructive, it is usually carried out when the property is vacant.

Type 3 fire risk assessment (common parts and flats, non-destructive)

A type 3 fire risk assessment is similar to a type 1, but it will also cover the interiors of individual flats, as well as the common areas of the building. 

Included in the assessment will be means of escape, the fire resistance of internal flat doors, fire alarms and fire detection and warning systems. It is one of the most comprehensive types of fire risk assessment, and will also look at compartmentation between flats.

It can sometimes be challenging to arrange a type 3 fire risk assessment, because they call for entry into individual dwellings. Wherever possible, it is ideal to carry out these assessments during void periods when there are no tenants in place, otherwise a tactful approach will be required in order to negotiate access. An experienced fire risk assessor will be able to help in this respect.

Type 4 fire risk assessment (common parts and flats, destructive)

A type 4 fire risk assessment is one of the most comprehensive fire risk assessment types, and can be destructive. It will involve a contractor creating openings for inspections to be carried out on certain fire stopping points within the premises. The contractor will then repair any damage.

Because of the destructive nature of a type 4 fire risk assessment, it is best carried out when the property is vacant. In reality, these types of fire risk assessment are usually only suggested in situations where serious defects are detected in common parts of a building and individual dwellings.

Which of the different types of fire risk assessment do I need?

In the majority of cases, a type 1 fire risk assessment will be sufficient. The other types of fire risk assessments are usually only required if a type 1 assessment identifies a need. For example, if a type 1 fire risk assessment shows inaccessible areas of concern, such as under floorboards, then a type 2 or type 4 assessment with destructive sampling may be suggested.

Professional fire risk assessment companies will be able to advise you on the types of fire risk assessment that are appropriate for your particular premises.

Looking for fire risk assessment services?

As well as a legal requirement, fire risk assessments make good commercial sense. Many businesses do not recover following a fire, and effective fire prevention begins with identifying risks.

What’s more, if a fire occurs and you have failed to meet your legal obligations, you could face a fine and a custodial sentence.

Here at BPW Fire Safety, our highly experienced, qualified fire safety specialists and fire risk assessment providers are on hand to help you navigate your way through the entire fire safety risk assessment process, from undertaking all the different types of fire risk assessment, to providing advice on any recommendations made by the report.

If you have carried out your own fire safety risk assessment, we can provide professional opinion on its viability.

For a tailored quote at competitive rates for fire risk assessments Cumbria, Penrith, Kendal and Carlisle wide, contact BPW Fire Safety today.


Ash Grove, Alexandra Road
Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 9AN

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