Hotels, Boarding Houses and like Premises


Fire Safety in new and altered Hotels and Boarding Houses is subject to the Building Regulations and the guidance can be found 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.

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 on the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities’ website. 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 & breakfast accommodation
  • Hotels and motels
  • Hostels, e.g. YMCA, YWCA, youth hostels, bail hostels or homeless persons accommodation
  • Refuges, e.g. family accommodation centres, halfway houses
  • Residential health and beauty spa centres
  • Residential conference, seminar and training centres
  • 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);
  • 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
  • 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
    • Prisons and other establishments where people are in lawful custody.

It helps a responsible person 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.

Fire Risks

Hotels and Boarding Houses with their large number of occupants are considered to be high fire risks, being also exposed to carelessness and accidental as well as deliberate disabling of fire precautions. This can result in serious fires and the possible loss of life and will threaten the owner’s business.

The five principle fire risks are:

  • Carelessly discarded smoking materials if they are 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 will give an early warning of fire; this will, of course, not stop the fire but should reduce the damage to negligible losses. The use of no-smoking signs and the strict prohibition of smoking in risk areas will 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 fault on an electrical apparatus may be the source of fire, especially if the equipment has 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 depending on the size, 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 in 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 stored correctly. House keeping and keeping the store as tidy as possible will reduce the risk. Also, ensure that 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. Ensure a high degree of supervision during and after their presence. Give the area they have been working in a thorough inspection and make sure no hot spots or small fires have been missed.

Arson Prevention

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 as low as reasonably possible. See also the guide How to Combat Arson


During training sessions fire procedures must be practised and simple fire precautions must be emphasised in an attempt to stop fires happening. Not only is fire training in most premises required by law, it also makes sense. Half an hour spent on training may prevent a fire and can save lives. For further information go to Staff fire safety training.


March 17, 2011[Last updated: April 22, 2022]

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