In our latest blog, certification expert Lee Horlock explains about what is fire risk management and how BS 9997 can help?

In the last few years there has been a significant increase in pressure across all sectors to ensure buildings are built and maintained to an acceptable standard. Big change is coming, with higher standards and more stringent enforcement. Organizations – and individuals within those organizations - are realising their role and responsibilities in these areas, and demand for safer buildings has never been higher.

The management of fire risk is a vital responsibility for anyone in charge of a building or a portfolio of buildings. This is especially the case for infrastructure that is high risk, such as hospitals and care homes. To protect the lives of people within the buildings as well as to ensure legal compliance, a holistic framework for Fire Risk Management Systems (FRMS) should be considered.

With recent changes in legislation and more stringent rules set to be enforced, the serious consideration of fire safety is not just a moral obligation or a box-ticking exercise, it is law – and those who breach the legislation, will be prosecuted.

What is a Fire Risk Management System (FRMS)? 

A fire risk management system can be put in place to design, manage, plan and co-ordinate appropriate fire safety procedures to reduce the risks of fire and to ensure the safety of a building and its occupants. A complete FRMS ensures legal compliance and protection of lives and assets.

Usually when considering fire precautions, it is fire protection measures that come at the top of the list of priorities. However, the quality of the fire protection measures put in place will only continue to be effective if they are managed properly – and without a thorough assessment of the risks of ignition and spread of fire, it is impossible to implement the correct level of protection.

What is BS 9997?

The building industry as a whole has come under much scrutiny in recent years, and as part of that a new framework for FRMS has been created.

Developed by a panel of industry and emergency service experts, British Standard BS 9997:2019 offers robust assurance that organizations are meeting the requirements of all relevant fire safety legislation. While the FRMS is not currently obligatory, it allows organizations to satisfy the mandatory standards around current fire legislation.

British Standard BS 9997:2019 was released in August 2019 and supersedes the previous FRMS, PAS 7:2013. It is designed to provide a framework for organizations of all sizes to manage their approach to fire risk in a holistic, risk-based way, applying the widely recognized ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ test cycle.

The standard follows the ISO structure Annex SL, which allows a high-level structure (HLS) to align the fire risk management systems with other ISO management systems already in place. This will streamline processes and deliver efficiencies, saving an organization time and money.

Like any management system, BS 9997 does not ensure that legislation is met, but as a FRMS is required in order to comply with current legislation. Certification to BS 9997 also demonstrates a robust commitment to fire safety to customers and stakeholders.

Ultimately, a FRMS such as BS 9997 makes buildings safer for the people within them, and safer for those who own them. With more rigorous legislation imminent in this area, and with such a high price to pay for failure in terms of human safety and personal prosecution, organizations should be acting now to futureproof buildings under their ownership.

We offer a comprehensive range of services across all sectors of fire. The addition of BS 9997 makes BM TRADA a full-service provider of fire certification products, especially in partnership with our sister organization, Warringtonfire.

Our experience and expertise in this area is what sets us apart, and as we can offer a full package, customers benefit from overall efficiency in addition to convenient access to our expert team.

If you have any questions about fire risk management, including more detail on the process, please get in touch.