Written by Adam Pearson CMIOSH, DipNEBOSH, EnvDipNEBOSH
Completing the practical element of the NEBOSH Fire Certificate, FC2, can be quite daunting, especially if you’ve never completed a fire risk assessment before.
You’re probably aware by now that there is no one-way to undertake a fire risk assessment; it can differ quite a lot with regards to format, layout and wording. However, this is a NEBOSH assessment and as such it’s important to do it the NEBOSH way by demonstrating the knowledge you’ve attained through the other parts of your studies and your new abilities.
FC2 requires you to undertake a fire risk assessment in a chosen workplace by completing a number of forms. In particular, you need to concentrate on what may cause a fire to start, spread and impede the safe escape of persons.
This guide aims to give you some advice on how to complete your NEBOSH practical with confidence and help get you that distinction.
Before you start your assessment
The best advice I can give as a trainer and assessor on the NEBOSH Fire Certificate is to read the guidance and marking scheme before you start and make sure you follow it. It might sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many candidates fail by not doing just that. Your fire risk assessment may contain excellent detail and clear knowledge, but if it’s not written in the right forms or order you won’t get the marks. So put the right information on the correct form.
Your fire risk assessment should show logical progression, i.e. the forms should follow on from the observations highlighted in the observation sheets. It’s important to note that there are no marks available for completing the observation sheets. Rather, the NEBOSH assessor will be looking to see that the information included on your forms addresses the observations that you have made, so nothing new on your forms that’s not on your observation sheets.
Although your workplace won’t be visited by an assessor, it’s important that your observations and assessment are realistic. For example, it’s not likely that you’ll find a highly flammable chemical store at a cake shop.
We’ll now take a look at what you should include in each of the forms to complete your FC2 assessment and get you those all-important marks.
Identifying Hazards and Issues
Range of fire hazards (3 marks) and number of fire hazards identified (12 Marks) (form 1)
The first form (form 1) is looking for fire hazards, i.e. what will cause a fire to start. Therefore, you’re looking to put fuel, oxygen and ignition/heat sources in the form. In fact, if you make sure that you put some fuel, some oxygen and some ignition/heat sources then for that alone there are 3 marks available!
This form isn’t looking for fire spread and risk to people issues, so you don’t need to include anything about means of escape, fire doors or broken alarm sounders in here, that’s for form 2.
Although the guidance highlights exactly how many hazards NEBOSH is looking for on your forms, candidates will still fall short of the required amount. So make sure you have the requested amount to give yourself a much bigger chance of obtaining more or full marks.
Range of fire risk issues (fire spread/risk to persons) (15 Marks) (form 2)
Form 2 looks at issues relating to the risk of fire spread and risks to persons. Think about things such as excessive travel distances and perhaps the blocking of fire exits etc. It’s important that there is a broad range of issues to obtain full marks so please make sure you don’t just focus on one area of concern, mix it up a bit.
Identification of persons at risk (5 marks) (forms 1 and 2)
An easy 5 marks? Well, if you only identify that the persons at risk in the workplace are one other member of staff, then you’re not going to get many marks.
In my mind you must always ask yourself, what is NEBOSH looking for? At this point, they want to know that you understand a fire in a workplace can have far-reaching consequences and we must make sure we consider all possible people who may be affected. Think about venerable groups, visitors, contractors, general public etc. An easy 5 marks.
Existing Fire Safety Measures
Recognition of measures to reduce the risk of fire occurring (15 Marks) (form 1)
Logical progression needed. You need to look at the hazards you have identified and, as the title of the section suggests, recognise some of the existing control measures to reduce the risk of a fire occurring. This means fire prevention. A great opportunity for you to showcase your knowledge gained from the whole course.
A bit of advice from me at this point is to make sure you don’t have all hazards fully controlled straight away. The next step is to suggest additional controls, so if you have all hazards controlled at this point, then you don’t give yourself much room for improvement and to gain more marks.
Recognition of measures to reduce the risk of fire and some spread (5 Marks) (form 2) and recognition of measures to reduce the risk to persons (10 Marks) (form 2)
Form 2, fire protection. The title here indicates that there are 5 marks available for the recognition of existing measures for fire and smoke and 10 marks for measures to reduce the risk to persons, so please do as it asks.
These measures need to be existing. Once again, try not to put all the possible controls in here and leave yourself with no room to gain extra marks for additional controls.
Again, the common mistakes candidates make here is to fill the wrong information in the wrong form. They will identify fire prevention measures instead of fire protection measures. NEBOSH needs to be satisfied that you have a sound understanding of the differences.
Further measure required (forms 1 and 2) (15 marks)
This is an opportunity for you to showcase your knowledge in suggesting additional control measures that can be adopted, be it for fire hazards (form 1) or in relation to the risk of fire spread and risk to persons (form 2).
The key term here is that candidates will be assessed on their ability to realistically put forward further controls to reduce or eliminate risks. Remember that we must try to provide the best solution available, so consider the legal duties under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and make sure you are giving the right advice in this area.
Assessment of Risk (Form 3)
There are 5 marks available for each of these sections:
- Risk of fire occurring (5 marks)
- Risk of fire spread (5 marks)
- Risk to persons (5 marks)
You will need to make sure you give adequate justification for your risk level; why is it high, medium or low? The assessor will be looking for a realistic assessment based on the information you have given in your observation sheets and forms 1 and 2. Logical progression.
The best way to approach this is to remind yourself that the assessor doesn’t know you, so don’t assume that they know your knowledge level and reasoning abilities – spell it out.
For example, the reason the assessment is high could be due to the fact that there is a very real possibility of a fire starting within the workplace in the current condition as there is evidence of smoking taking place in the HFL store.
Risk Assessment Review (Form 3)
5 marks available for ensuring you have suggested a realistic and justifiably viable review date, taking into consideration the level of risk you’ve identified in your assessment and the urgency of fire safety measures. Be sensible.
Quite often candidates fail solely because they have completed the wrong information in the wrong form. So make sure you read the guidance available on the NEBOSH website. Good luck!
The NEBOSH Certificate in Fire Safety and Risk Management (NFC) is a leading qualification in fire safety, with over 8,000 learners having achieved the qualification.
It provides a sound understanding of fire risk management principles and how to implement them in day-to-day activities. The practical element makes sure learners can confidently conduct a fire risk assessment and recommend preventative and protective measures in line with fire safety regulations.
For more information about this course please visit our website.