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FRA 'tools'

Posted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 11:30 am
by Ewangoil
Hi all, we are looking at moving away from paper (handwritten) fire risk assessments and start using a tablet/laptop based app/software.
Can anyone recommend anything that's worth having a look at. We currently use the PAS79 format.


Re: FRA 'tools'

Posted: Fri Jul 10, 2020 7:46 pm
by Andyblue
If you are looking for a paperless method, my experience has been very good with iAuditor- but I emphasis I didn’t set it up, although in hindsight, it seems more tedious and planned than it is difficult.
As an alternative, lots of hauliers use a paperless app for vehicle checks that range from kicking the tyres to details of fridge temps. You may find the app people from that direction being amenable to your needs

Re: FRA 'tools'

Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:54 am
by Messy
I wish you well, but my experience is that I struggle with the use of dynamic tools such as iPads and PDAs for fire risk assessments.Ok, maybe I am a dinosaur but I prefer the freedom of scribbling on a paper aide memoire to help me ensure all areas are recorded and simply transfer those observations and assessments onto a template later.

I found when I tried an App (sorry I don't know what it was) I tended to be led by the software. It demanded I entered information in its order of questions, and there was no easy option for recording a free note in a margin. I often sketch a plan or make ad hoc notes as I walk around. That level of flexibility was missing with an electronic form. I found I was engaging less with the client and seeing less of the premises as my head was down swiping and clicking.

IMO, a FRA must never be a tick box activity. I need to assess the client's competence and attitude as much as I do the building and its various management systems. In many cases, its useful - sometimes vital - to understand the processes carried on at the premises, so a head up and engaged stance is important not to miss anything.

Plus I work quite frequently in data halls where electronic devices - including phones, cameras, watches and even Fitbit type devices have to be locked away outside the premises.

I enjoy IT so am no luddite. I understand the time saving potential of such software, but for me, carrying a device around can be a nuisance and a distraction so I will be staying with three pens (1 and 2 x spares!) plus my 5 page 'Idiot Sheet' as I call it - which makes sure I don't miss an area.

However, I like to keep an open mind, so if others here can persuade me to go electronic, I would like to hear their rationale

Re: FRA 'tools'

Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:20 am
by Andyblue
Messy, I’ve used iauditor and some others.with good effect. But, like you, the ability to scribble or make notes is the constant backup for where the apps don’t cover the scenario. I suppose the combination of using templates for the expected or norm gives consistency and time saving as well as paper to ensure all angles are covered and added to the app later.
Flexible ability in templates is the key to my mind.

Re: FRA 'tools'

Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 4:24 pm
by witsd
I don't scribble at all – I take millions of photos, videos if necessary, and then sit down and transfer them onto a text-heavy template.

Whilst this is at first, a pretty different approach to Messy, I agree entirely about the inflexibility of apps. Anything I use needs to be able to handle the unusual, and so far, the only way I've found that allows for that is a generous free text to tick-boxes ratio, which never seems to be the case with apps.

Even the most clear-cut yes / no question will eventually have an exception, where the answer is "No, but..." and there needs to be space for that without having to shoehorn it in elsewhere.

Re: FRA 'tools'

Posted: Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:52 pm
by Messy
I have had a look at iauditor and it really is an impressive bit of kit. I really would like to give an app a try, as my Jurassic method is slow, and I can see the benefit in an app/paper mix as Andyblue uses.

But I often work in data halls, and other sensitive storage and technical areas where they won't let mobile phones in, let alone a PDA or similar. Similarly anyone found with a camera would be escorted off site, never to return.

I would like to use a cloud based management system like this but my hands are somewhat tied :(

Re: FRA 'tools'

Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 12:41 pm
by stephen1974
I've used Iauditor for FRA's and whilst it is a good AUDITING tool, I don't think its great for assessments, especially initialy assessments.

The two biggest problems are:
1. The questions you put in to the audit. These may not always cover every situation that comes up.
2. Remembering the all of those questions as you walk around the building. Its not possible to do the audit in question order, unless you want to walk the building over and over and over again.

The first one you can limit the problem by putting together a comprhensive set of of questions, though this then increases the second problem. You can also have a notes section for each question to expand on issues and an additional notes section for additional things you find that are not covered by the audit questions.

The second issue is a nightmare unless you have an exceptional memory. You will either end up walking the building many many times, or you will miss things. Its very frustrating.

You could just have different section headings, building description, training, escape routes, maintenance etc etc... and have a notes section where you simply write what you want, no specific questions, but you can just do that in a word doc and dont need an app, plus, for places that want a scored audit (many place like scores) then this wont really work.

I did find that for first time assessments, especially on a new business, auditing software is no good as you will almost be saying no to everything. It really wasnt helpful and when this happened I ended up going to an FRA i had created in word and doing it as an assessment not an audit.