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Practical Fire Safety Guidance for small Bed and Breakfast and Self-Catering Premises



The steps below are intended to help you through the process of carrying out an assessment of the fire risks in your property.

Step 1: Who is at risk?

Consider the numbers and capability of people who may occupy your property and who could be at risk. This includes guests, owners, any other visitors including cleaners, tradespersons etc. Make a note if particularly vulnerable persons are likely such as children, elderly, or disabled persons (you will need to consider the fire safety of guests with any special needs or vulnerabilities).

Step 2: What fire hazards are there?

Think about how a fire could start on your premises and identify sources of ignition such as cooking, heaters, open fires and smoking. Do family members smoke? Are there designated bedrooms where guests are permitted to smoke? Where are electrical appliances such as tumble dryers and TVs? What is the likelihood of a deliberate fire?

Consider what could burn and act as fuel for a fire. This could include furniture, bedding, laundry, wood/kindling for open fires, rubbish, flammable liquids, solvents, chemicals or gases, cooking oil, paint, white spirit, cleaning products, aerosols, LPG, or fuels such as petrol.

Consider what could happen if a fire occurred and how quickly it could spread. The construction of the property can affect how fire can spread, it may spread faster if there are multiple layers of wallpaper, polystyrene ceiling tiles or interior wood paneling. If rubbish stored outside caught fire could it spread to inside the property or block an exit door?

Step 3: What can you do to reduce/remove risk, what fire safety measures should be put in place?

Now that you have considered the people at risk and the hazards, you can take steps as necessary to reduce the risk both of a fire occurring and of injury or loss of life should a fire occur. You may also wish to consider the risk of damage to your property, and any subsequent loss of business.

If ignition sources and fuel sources are reduced and these are kept apart, the chances of a fire starting are low. The following lists some of the actions that are advised for dwellings as part of normal community fire safety which you should consider to reduce the risk of a fire occurring:

  • Ensure good housekeeping, so that storage is in designated areas only, is orderly, refuse and packaging is disposed of frequently and carefully, bins are secure;
  • Ensure flammable materials and liquids are stored properly, away from ignition sources, electrical fuse box and meter, boilers, etc. Do not store aerosols in damp areas (such as under sinks);
  • Avoid the use of portable gas heaters, use only in an emergency when only butane should be used;
  • Ensure that electrical and gas appliances and equipment are maintained, serviced and kept in good working order. Clean extract equipment to kitchens;
  • Replace any chip pan with a deep fat fryer with a thermostat;
  • Individual heating appliances should be fixed in position and guarded;
  • Ensure the electrical installation to the property is in good order, get it checked if in any doubt. Ensure correct wiring of plugs and correct fuse ratings;
  • If anyone smokes ensure ashtrays are provided, emptied regularly and safely. Inspect or advise your guests to inspect smoking areas before bedtime;
  • Keep halls, corridors and stairs which would be used to escape from a fire clear and hazard free and advise guests to do this also. In particular keep clear of items which can burn, or are a source of ignition such as electrical equipment, coat racks, refuse, laundry, upholstered furniture, portable heaters or gas cylinders;
  • If your property is in an area where vandalism or deliberate fires can be a problem, consider security measures to prevent entrance to the grounds of the property and access to refuse storage and storage of any flammable liquids/gases.

You should then consider what further safety measures are necessary to reduce the risk of injury or loss of life should a fire occur in your premises, for example:

  • means for detecting and effectively warning occupants of a fire which occurs in any part of the premises;
  • means to restrict the spread of fire and smoke from the source to other areas especially the escape route;
  • means of escape which are easy to use at any time by persons who are not familiar with the premises, for example guests who have recently arrived;
  • means for fighting a small fire such as a fire in a waste bin or in a cooking pan.

Guidance on what is expected in these areas is provided in the section: 'BENCHMARKS FOR FIRE SAFETY'.

Step 4: Record: It is a good idea to keep a written record of your fire safety risk assessment. This will make it easier for you to review your assessment and it will also be easier to demonstrate that you have carried out an assessment. You should also record the arrangements for reviewing your fire safety risk assessment, your emergency fire action plan and the maintenance arrangements for fire safety measures.

Step 5: Review: You need to regularly review your fire safety risk assessment. Is there anything that has altered the risk and means you need to consider again the fire safety measures you have in place? For example are you doing building work, maintenance or decorative work? Do you have a different range of guests such as more elderly or disabled?