Data Centre Operators – who should be requesting fire risk assessments for your tenants in your data halls?

Vicki Ford-Smith
Consultant, Assurity Consulting
9th November 2022

Firstly, of course, we are more than happy to help organisations fulfil their requirements to complete a fire risk assessment, but in this instance, they should not be arranging this via the Data Centre Operator but should be going directly to a fire risk assessor to commission the work for themselves.

There are several issues with completing a fire risk assessment on the behalf of a customer/tenant in data halls within a Data Centre.

Firstly, the duty to complete the assessment sits with the customer/tenant. The fire risk assessment report needs to have their company name on it, and it be addressed to the ‘Responsible Person’, to make sure it’s clear that the customer/tenant has ownership for any issues within their area highlighted within the report. There could be issues with liability if the Data Centre Operator commission the work on the customer/tenant’s behalf.

Secondly, to make sure that the fire risk assessment is considered suitable and sufficient, the fire risk assessor will need to know (to name a few):

  • How the customer/tenant manage their space;
  • How they induct their staff into the space, if they have any lone workers, staff with mobility or sensory impairment’s that may require a PEEP (Personnel Emergency Evacuation Plan); and
  • Their specific roles and responsibilities are during building evacuation and whether they are documented in their evacuation procedures.

This is probably information the Data Centre Operator won’t know and without this key information, the fire risk assessor cannot confirm that the fire safety within the data hall is being appropriately managed.   

Finally, imagine for example if during a fire risk assessment, the assessor was to identify that the customer/tenant had installed a rack that compromises the fire escape route, or was storing large amounts of cardboard within the data hall, the Data Centre Operator will have no control to resolve this issue. Often, the Data Centre Operator cannot go into a data hall without permission from the customer/tenant, but if the action has been identified in the fire risk assessment provided, how would this look to the Fire and Rescue Service as the enforcement authority?

It is important that customer/tenants within Data Centres complete their own fire risk assessments and shares the significant findings with the Data Centre Operator, to be able to demonstrate suitable co-operation and co-ordination. I always advise Data Centres tenants that need a fire risk assessment to approach a fire risk assessor directly and commission the work for themselves. You can find out more about our services in Data Centres here.