Small Premises Providing Sleeping Accommodation

Small premises providing sleeping accommodation including small Bed Breakfasts and Guest Houses had not since the introduction of the Fire Precautions Act been required to have the same standards as those premises that required  a Fire Certificate. When the “Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order” (RRFSO) came into force on 1 October 2006 this changed and all premises became subject to the same requirements and all premises providing sleeping accommodation, with the onus on every owner, must now assess their own fire risks, by carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment (FRA).

However, it has become clear that different Fire and Rescue Services throughout the country have different interpretations and very different ideas about standards and enforcement. As the explicit purpose of the RRFSO is to make the law easier to understand and to comply with and to reduce the burden of regulations on business, it was clearly not intended that the results would be more onerous for small businesses and householders than the previous regime – but in fact this is not proving to be the case in practice.

Many owners are being told by their local Fire Authority that they must install fire precautions of the sort that would have been required for much larger premises consequently many owners are finding that:

  • the precautions demanded by fire inspectors in many areas are disproportionate to the risks posed by the premises and their use
  • the financial cost of compliance is disproportionate to their turnover and profits
  • the changes required by their fire department would compromise the character of their premises
  • the changes may be difficult to obtain planning/listed building consent for,
  • they are told that the less costly precautions their own FRA indicated are not sufficient
  • the precautions required by their fire department are those designed for large commercial premises such as hotels

As a consequence the government has produced a guidance document called Do you have paying Guests. It provides information how small premises providing sleeping accommodation can comply with the fire safety law. Another Guidance document can be found on the LACoRS website and is called Housing Fire Safety: Guidance on fire safety provisions for certain types of existing housing.

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March 17, 2011[Last updated: December 4, 2012]

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