It is important to understand that more than one piece of fire safety legislation and/or fire safety guidance can be applied to any individual premises. For instance take a school the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 applies and there could be others. Fire Safety guidance documents including Guide 5 – Educational premises, Guide 1 – Offices and shops, Guide 6 – Small and medium places of assembly or Guide 7 – Large places of assembly may apply and if the school is a boarding school then Guide 3 – Sleeping accommodation could apply.
Fire Safety in new and altered Hotels and Boarding Houses are subject to the Building Regulations and the guidance can be found on my page on Fire Safety in New, Extended or Altered Buildings.
When premises are occupied fire precautions are controlled by The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and this order lays down legal requirements, check them out at the above link.
Fire Safety Guide for England and Wales
The most appropriate guide for Hotels, Boarding Houses and like Premises is likely to be Guide 3 – Sleeping accommodation and can be downloaded at the Department of Communities and Local Government web site. This guide is for all employers, managers and owners of premises providing sleeping accommodation. It tells you about how you might comply with fire safety law, helps you to carry out a fire risk assessment and identify the general fire precautions you need to have in place. It applies to premises where the main use is for sleeping accommodation. The premises addressed in this guide include,
- Guest houses and bed and breakfast accommodation;
- Hotels and motels;
- Hostels, e.g. Y.M.C.A., Y.W.C.A., youth hostels, bail hostels or homeless persons accommodation;
- Refuges, e.g. family accommodation centre’s, halfway houses;
- Residential health and beauty spa centre’s;
- Residential conference, seminar and training centre’s;
- Student halls of residence and areas of sleeping accommodation in other training institutions including military barrack style quarters;
- Those areas of buildings in boarding schools that provide sleeping accommodation; seminaries and other religious colleges;
- The common areas of sheltered accommodation, where care is not provided (where care is provided, see residential care guide);
- Holiday chalets, holiday flat complexes, camping, caravan holiday parks (other than privately owned individual units); and
- Areas in workplaces, where staff sleeping-in is a condition of the employment or a business requirement, as in licensed premises and hotels (but not including tied accommodation such as separate flats, houses or apartments)
This guide addresses:
- Sleeping accommodation for staff;
- Sleeping, dining or other accommodation for guests/residents; and
- Common areas for residents.
- This guide is not intended for use in:
- Domestic premises occupied as a single private dwelling (which includes private flats or rooms);
- Hospitals, residential care and nursing homes; and
- Prisons and other establishments where people are in lawful custody.
It has been written to provide guidance for a responsible person, to help them to carry out a fire risk assessment in less complex premises. If you read the guide and decide that you are unable to apply the guidance, then you should seek expert advice from a competent person. More complex premises will probably need to be assessed by a person who has comprehensive training or experience in fire risk assessment. However this guide can be used for multi-occupied buildings to address fire safety issues within their individual occupancies.
Hotels and Boarding Houses are considered to be a high fire risk, because of the life risk Fires usually occur as the result of carelessness and if some person accidentally or deliberately negates the fire precautions. This can result in serious fire situations causing the possible loss of life and the owner’s business being threatened. The risks are similar to those in domestic property however the level of risk varies defendant on the number of staff, guests and as the premises are occupied twenty four hours a day, this increases the risk.
The five principle fire risks are,
- Carelessly discarded smoking materials if it is allowed to come into contact with combustible materials. A lighted cigarette end will take a long time to ignite combustible materials, which may occur in the sleeping hours, thereby increasing the risk. Hopefully the fire detection system would give an early warning of fire, which will not stop the fire but could reduce the damage to negligible losses. The use of signs and the prohibition of smoking in risk areas would reduce the risk and constantly broadcast the dangers to the staff and guests.
- Electrical Appliances are now a standard provision in bed rooms and can be a source of fire if they have been subjected to misuse. Occasionally an electrical faults on electrical apparatus may be a source of fire, especially if they have not been serviced regularly. All electrical equipment should be tested annually and the staff and guests kept informed of the possible dangers associated with the different types of electrical equipment.
- Kitchens can be a high risk dependent on the size and especially if the kitchen is not properly supervised. Full dining facilities increase the risk but this is lessened by having staff in attendance at all times.
- There is a high fire risk is store rooms where bedding, towels, flammable materials and cleaning equipment are stored . Flammable materials in the presence of chemical cleaner may result in a higher fire risk if not store correctly. House keeping and ensuring the store rooms are keep as tidy as possible, will reduce the risk. Also ensure the dangers are discussed at any training sessions.
- Tradesmen on the premises, especially those that use apparatus that is capable of starting a fire, like blow lamps, gas torches, metal angle cutters, etc. One needs to ensure a high degree of supervision during and after their presence. Give the area they have been working in a through inspection and make sure no hot spots or small fires have been missed.
Arson is the single most common cause of fire in business premises and 45% of all serious fires are a result of arson. Much of this is not targeted and the vast majority of arson attacks are down to opportunist vandalism. Apart from the need to comply with the law the Responsible Person has a duty to himself and his business to reduce this risk to as low as reasonable possible. Information to assist you, to achieve these aims, go to my page on How to Combat Arson
During training sessions as well as detailing and practicing fire procedures some time should be devoted to emphasising simple fire precautions in an attempt to stop fires happening. Not only is fire training in most premises required under law it also makes sense, half an hour spent before the fire may prevent the fire in the first place and can save lives. For further information go to Staff fire safety training.
March 17, 2011[Last updated: December 4, 2012]