Fire risk assessment
The first thing any business needs to do to ensure the best level of fire safety is to create a comprehensive fire risk assessment document. This will not only help you to identify potential hazards and any areas where fire safety equipment and signage need to be deployed. But it is there to support your ongoing fire safety monitoring. Providing you with an easy guide to dip in to. And a record – along with your fire safety log book – to show any visiting fire officers that you are meeting regulatory compliance.
Fire safety equipment
There is a whole range of fire safety equipment that hotels and B&Bs should have in place. These include:
- Fire doors – In hotels, all bedrooms – and ideally all internal rooms – should have fire doors which have a self-closing mechanism. This can help to prevent the spread of fire. In B&Bs, guesthouses, and self-catering accommodation, fire doors are recommended but not obligatory.
- Fire exits – Fire exits should be installed at convenient locations in all hotels. Again, this is advised but not mandatory in smaller hospitality businesses.
- Emergency lighting – Even small hotels can feel like rabbit warrens in the dark. And when filled with smoke, it can be impossible for those unfamiliar with the layout to navigate corridors. Emergency lighting is vital in these situations.
- Fire alarms – Your fire alarm system is one of the most important features of your hotel’s or B&B’s fire protection strategy. As part of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, you are required to have a fully functioning fire alarm system on each floor of your premises.
- Fire extinguishers – There are five different types of fire extinguisher. In order to provide your hotel, guests, and employees with maximum potential protection, you need to ensure that you have the right fire extinguishers in the right place.
All fire safety equipment must be well-maintained and subject to regular inspection.
To ensure the safe escape of everyone on your premises in the event of a fire, you need to plan an evacuation route from every room. And make these routes available to all of your guests.
Your team are your greatest assets for all kinds of reasons. But in the event of a fire, it will be their ability to stay calm and take evasive action – whether triggering the fire alarm or assisting vulnerable parties from your premises – that will make the difference between a successful evacuation and potential tragedy. Appropriate employee fire safety training is a legal obligation for all UK businesses. But the standard of that training can literally make the difference between life and death.
A key element of your fire risk assessment is its use in identifying and removing hazards. Whether blocked fire exits, propped open fire doors, or the poor storage of flammable items. If you can remove potential hazards before they become a real danger, then your fire safety battle is already half won.
What are the most common breaches of fire safety in hotels and B&Bs?
The most common fire safety breaches in hotels are the ones that it is easiest to overlook. So, while you might understand a fire door being wedged open to assist with a delivery, it is easy for this to develop into a habit. Which eventually sees the door being permanently held ajar. And when a fire breaks out under these circumstances, the door becomes totally ineffectual.
The same applies to damaged and ill-fitting fire doors, and doors with smoke seals in need of repair.
Do hotels and B&Bs really need to worry about fire safety?
Short answer: yes. Aside from your moral obligation, which should really be enough, there are solid financial incentives for adhering to fire safety regulations.
In 2021, owners of the Falstaff Hotel in Leamington Spa were ordered to pay £350,000 plus costs, having been found guilty of multiple breaches of the Fire Safety Order. And this is not a stand-alone case. If you are found guilty of a major breach of fire safety regulations, you can face unlimited fines and up to 2 years in prison.
Fire safety can be difficult to manage for hotels and B&Bs. There are so many different areas to focus on. But if you begin with a comprehensive fire risk assessment, it will provide an indispensable guide that can support you through every other area of your fire safety strategy.