Fire safety (general)
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the Pink Book of Legislation, we regret that we cannot be responsible for any errors. This guide is not intended to be a definitive statement of the law in England. If you require precise or detailed information on the legislation mentioned in this guide, or on the legal implications for you in particular, you should consult a professional legal adviser.
- Fire safety legislation applies to virtually all workplaces including hotels, B&Bs and self-catering properties.
- A 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment must be carried out, and where there are five or more employees, the assessment should be recorded.
- There should be one person responsible for the fire risk assessment and ensuring that fire protection and prevention measures are observed and maintained.
- An emergency plan should be drawn up. It should be displayed in the form of a fire action notice in guest rooms and adjacent to the fire alarm call points in the staff and common areas.
Fire risk assessment tool
Carry out your fire risk assessment with our easy to use online tool.
For supplementary guidance on considering the means of escape for disabled people in your Fire Risk Assessment, download the guide.
On 1 October 2006 there was a major change in UK fire safety legislation with the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This requires the 'responsible person' in virtually all workplaces, including hotels, B&Bs and self-catering properties, to adopt a self-assessment approach to fire safety in the workplace.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to England and Wales, but there is equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- In Scotland the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 apply.
- In Northern Ireland the relevant legislation is the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.
Do the Regulations apply to me?
Yes: the Regulations apply to all accommodation premises, including self-catering accommodation.
The key requirement is that a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment must be carried out.
If you have five or more employees the fire risk assessment should be recorded. However, we strongly recommend that even if you do not employ five or more people, you should keep a record in case any issues arise concerning your fire safety provisions. A record will also prove that you have undertaken an assessment.
- Note: it is also a requirement of VisitEngland's National Quality Assurance Scheme that you demonstrate to the assessor that you have carried out your fire risk assessment. In addition, your public liability insurance provider will also require proof that you have undertaken an assessment.
Houses in multiple occupation
Properties defined as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in that the common areas that may be visited by the landlord or others are subject to a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. The individual residential areas are not subject to this requirement. HMOs are still subject to the fire safety requirements imposed by the Housing Act 2004.
Who is the 'responsible person'?
In each hotel or guesthouse there should be one person who is, to some extent, in control of the workplace. They should be nominated to take responsibility for carrying out the fire risk assessments and ensuring that fire protection and prevention measures are observed and maintained.
Although not a legal requirement, it is advisable to identify the nominated responsible person on the assessment document and make that person known to all staff.
What is a Fire Risk Assessment?
A fire risk assessment is a structured consideration of the fire hazards and management of fire in the premises. It can be undertaken in five steps:
- Identify the fire hazards
- Identify the people at risk
- Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk
- Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
- Review the assessment periodically.
Remember: you know your premises best, so follow the guidance and assess how your staff and guests would escape from the building quickly if a fire started - 2.5 minutes is the target time. Think about how they would be alerted and how easily they would find their way out. After all, guest safety is the most important thing to consider - and yours too, if you live on the premises.
Identify the fire hazards
- potential sources of ignition, e.g.:
- cooking equipment
- electrical apparatus
- display screen equipment, e.g. computer screens
- combustible materials that may burn, e.g.:
- the furnishings and furniture
- parts of the building such as panelling
- combustible linings on escape routes
- display materials
- flammable liquids and gases e.g.
- those used for cleaning or maintenance purposes
Identify the people at risk
The people at risk include:
- other visitors
- people outside the property, e.g. neighbours and passers-by
Particular note should be made of the number of people on the premises and any persons - staff or guests - who have any form of impairment. Disabled guests should be accommodated in rooms on low floors where possible to minimise their travel distance to a place of safety.
Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect from risk
This step involves evaluating the hazards and taking measures to eliminate these where possible. The prohibition of smoking in the guests' rooms or replacing candles on dinner tables with an alternative without an open flame, for example, will help to reduce the hazards.
Particular care should be taken when selecting curtains and display materials, especially decorations at times of public holidays and festivals.
Any simple changes should be made straight away, such as clearing obstacles and removing flammable items from escape routes. If you identify something that would be too expensive or cause too much disruption to rectify straight away, make a note of the work and when you intend to carry it out. Out of season is always a good time to catch-up on such work.
Record, plan, inform and train
Where there are five or more staff, the fire risk assessment must be recorded. In other cases (e.g. small guest houses, B&Bs and self-catering accommodation) it is good practice to record the assessment anyway to demonstrate compliance with the law. The logbook should contain details of maintenance and servicing to fire protection measures. It should also include details about alarms, detectors and fire extinguishers.
An emergency plan should be drawn up to indicate the actions that should be taken by staff, as well as guests and others, in case of a fire on the premises. The plan, in the form of a Fire Action Notice, should be displayed in guest rooms and adjacent to the fire alarm call points in the staff and common areas.
These actions should include the measures that would be taken to identify and assist anyone with a disability to leave the premises safely.
Staff should be trained in the actions that they would be expected to take in an emergency and this should include all staff participating in periodic fire drills at least once, and preferably twice, a year. Where staff do not speak fluent English, special attention should be given to ensuring that instructions are fully understood by the staff concerned.
Where a hotel is part of a complex of buildings (such as a shopping centre) or parts of the buildings are occupied by franchise holders, then the responsible person should liaise with the appropriate staff in these areas.
Review the assessment periodically
The fire risk assessment for the premises should be reviewed periodically and when:
- alterations are made to the structure or layout of the premises
- there are changes in the use of an area of the building
- there are significant changes to the number or location of the visitors or staff
- there is a significant change in the mobility level or other factors influencing the response of visitors or staff in an emergency
- there are changes in the management of the building.
There are no prescribed times for the reviews, but many businesses choose to review their assessment annually.