Fire safety – a burning issue in the hospitality sector

Fire presents a significant risk to any business. But the nature of the hospitality sector itself increases this risk, with danger zones including kitchens being common.

In 2013-2014, Fireward reported 22,000 fires in non-dwelling buildings, with 2,200 fires in restaurants, cafes, pubs, wine bars, hotels and takeaways. Scarily, 3,700 cases were recorded where alarms failed to sound.

Hotels are deemed to be high risk premises due to them generally being occupied 24 hours a day, from small B&Bs to large hotels. With over 45,000 hotels in the UK, fire safety is of utmost importance. Failure to comply can have serious consequences, which we discuss below.

Hoteliers’ inadequate measures  

Last month, the Derby Telegraph reported how a routine Fire Safety Audit of the International Hotel in Derby revealed a series of fire safety lapses which were repeatedly ignored after several visits and warnings. The lease holder and operator pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and was sentenced to six months in prison, a £40,000 fine and £20,000 in costs.

A catalogue of hazards included an unapplied fire risk assessment, poor structural maintenance, rusted fire escapes, fire doors wedged open, fire alarm and emergency lighting defects, untested fire extinguishers and inadequate colleague training.

Hero restauranteur recruits arsonist  

March also saw a blaze at Fennel Restaurant in Inverurie, ignited by two young boys who set fire to furniture in the alleyway of the restaurant. Both were caught in the act by the restaurant owner, William Bird, who then reached out on Facebook, writing

“I’m offering a reward. But that reward may not be what you think. The two young lads who tried to set fire at Fennel, I’m offering you a job”.

He lured them in by questioning whether they were gutsy enough to take on the task.

“I dare you, come work for me. It’s not for the feint hearted, (it) takes something pretty special”.

Despite this gesture of offering the offenders kitchen porter jobs, it has been overlooked, and one 13-year-old has now been charged and reported to the Youth Justice Management Unit.

The reality

Unfortunately, not everyone is as forgiving as Mr Bird – and although lessons learnt (through a hard day’s work) is a great way to encourage good behaviour – this act of kindness is a rarity. And like the first case, fire safety breaches can lead to catastrophic consequences… prison, fines, damage of brand and even worse, death.

So, remember… protect yourself, your colleagues, your customers and your business.

For a compliant business you need the following in place:

  • Adequate fire risk assessments
  • Working fire alarms and emergency lighting
  • Allocated competent person(s)
  • Clear signposts
  • Furniture and furnishings that meet (Fire Safety) Regulations 1998
  • Closed fire doors
  • Functional fire sprinkler systems
  • Fixed and tested fire extinguishers

We produce tailored Fire Safety Management Systems with specific safety procedures, offer advice through our unique Safety Advice Line, have experienced ex-fire brigade officers to conduct your Fire Risk Assessments and award-winning, cloud-based software to store and manage your FRAs.

For more information about how we can help keep your business and customers safe, visit our homepage or call us today on 020 3740 3744.


The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please email or call our team on 020 3740 3744.

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