Fire Risk Assessment 1 Advice for B&B Owners

Fire Risk Assessment 1 Advice for B&B Owners

Chris Hayton

Regulatory Reform Order

What is the law?

The law is officially called Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. 
It came into force on 1st October 2006 and replaces fire certificates and 78 other pieces of legislation.

It affects all forms of sleeping accommodation and is mandatory for those operating in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland will have their own fire safety legislation and guides.
For the purpose of the 'self-catering' sector and the interpretation of the new legislation, it should be pointed out that in context 'self-catering' is very similar to a B&B in principle, i.e. whether single or multiple units used for the purpose of 'self-catering'; then they will be affected by the new fire safety legislation.

The requirement of a fire certificate for a B&B providing sleeping accommodation for more than six people was laid down in the Fire Precautions (Hotels and Boarding Houses) Order 1972, which brought the premises covered by the Order within the scope of the Fire Precautions Act 1971, as being designated premises for which a fire certificate was required. This was until October 1 2006 the legal requirement.

Since the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order came into force, the Fire Precautions Act, and the designating Orders made under it, will cease to have effect. This means that the requirement as to the number of people for whom sleeping accommodation is provided in a B&B, a hotel, or other boarding house will no longer apply.

The law states that operators must take responsibility for fire safety themselves, so all accommodation operators have to carry out a fire safety risk assessment, irrespective of the number of people for whom they are providing accommodation, to determine the adequacy of their fire precautions in order to safeguard their guests in the event of a fire.

It is this risk assessment that determines the level of fire safety required in the B&B. The questions you should be asking are whether you have adequate means for giving warning of a fire and means of escape from your premises to a place of safety. To answer these questions you will need to consider the type of guests for whom you are providing accommodation. The needs of children with parents, the elderly and disabled people must especially be considered in order to decide whether your precautions are adequate to warn of a fire and to evacuate people from the premises.

In smaller and less complex businesses you will most likely be able to do your own assessment and whatever preventative or protective measures are required as a result of your risk assessment must be installed and/or maintained by you.

Basically whoever carries out your risk assessment it is you who is liable for anything that is found to be incorrect or if anything goes wrong.  Magistrates will be able to impose fines of £5000 for each offence and a Crown Court will be able to impose unlimited fines and up to two years in jail. 

Fire officers carry out spot checks, but these will in the main be risk-based assessments and hotels will be seen as a greater risk, so these will be visited and checked out more often.

How has it affect quality assessments since 2006? VisitBritain assessors now ask for sight of your fire risk assessment that has been carried out.  Where this is not available it you be seen as not complying with the legislation and this will affect your awarded rating. 

More information can also be found at here and the government has produced a book: Fire Safety Assessment - Sleeping Accommodation which can purchased for £12.00 or you can download from their website for free!


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