In October 2006, the ‘Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005′ came into effect and replaced over 70 pieces of fire safety law. The changes made replaced the need for fire certificates, which have now been abolished and no longer have legal status. The new legislation affects all businesses and places where anyone could conceivably be at risk should a fire occur. This includes all forms of sleeping accommodation, such as self-catering properties and B&Bs or guesthouses sleeping up to six guests, which were not previously affected.
Who is affected by the change in legislation?
- The new legislation covers all sleeping accommodation – self-catering properties and B&Bs are affected even if they weren’t covered under the old fire certificates – i.e. those sleeping one to six guests.
- For the purpose of the legislation, self-catering is very similar to B&B accommodation.
What does the new legislation mean?
- Owners – ‘Responsible Persons’ – must now take responsibility for fire safety and all accommodation operators will need to have a fire safety risk assessment carried out. Whoever carries out the assessment will be liable for anything that is found to be incorrect or if anything goes wrong.
- Magistrates are able to impose fines of up to £5,000 for each offence, while a Crown Court will be able to levy unlimited fines and sentence those responsible to up to two years in jail.
What is a fire risk assessment?
- This is a structured look at fire hazards and the management of fire in the premises.
- An assessment has five main steps:
- Identify any fire hazards
- Identify the people at risk
- Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk
- Record, plan, inform and train
- Review the assessment periodically
- Common fire hazards include: cigarettes; cooking equipment; lighting; electrical goods; and combustible materials such as furnishings.
- To reduce and protect from risks, you could prohibit smoking and replace candles with safer alternatives.
- The assessment should be reviewed regularly and whenever any structural, internal or procedural changes are made in the building.
What else needs to be done?
- Fire officers are liable to carry out spot checks on sleeping accommodation. As these are risk based assessments, larger establishments will be seen to be at greater risk and are likely to be checked more often. However, all owners must comply with the legislation and be prepared for a spot check, whatever the size of their operation.
- Visiting officers may ask to see the fire log book. This must contain the records of servicing and maintenance of any measures put in place.
- If you employ more than five people in your accommodation business, then you must record any significant findings of the assessment. However, it is recommended that you keep a copy of the assessment even if you do not employ more than this number.
- If the assessment raises the need for any preventative or protective measures, the owner is required to get these installed by a competent person.
- You will need to draw up an emergency plan and display this in the form of a fire action notice in guest rooms, next to fire alarm call points and in any communal areas.
- If in any doubt as to what course of action to take, it is recommended that you contact a fire safety professional.
If you would like further advice please visit our website, http://www.gfsfire.co.uk/, or call us on 01726 861116 alternatively send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to discuss your property and give our recommendations.
- Source: fire-assessments.co.uk; communities.gov.uk; oxfordshirecotswolds.org; Visit Britain – The Pink Booklet 2007/08 Legislation for tourist accommodation
- Should you wish to carry it out yourself, a template assessment is available at: http://fire-assessments.co.uk/default.asp.