Fire is a significant risk to any business, but even more so in the hospitality sector: hotels, restaurants, bars, leisure centres etc. are at a higher risk of a fire as they can be occupied up to 24 hours a day. Being responsible not only for your own safety but that of the employees and guests, you know more than anyone that keeping safety standards high at all times in your hospitality business is paramount.
In recent events, there have been big blazes that have caught the headlines, such as the tragic Grenfell Tower incident in June 2017 where a shocking 72 people sadly lost their lives, and hundreds were left homeless. Fire-related fatalities totalled 334 in England in 2017-18, which is higher than the previous year with 263 fatalities.
In the hospitality sector, there have been some big blazes too, not as beastly as Grenfell Tower, but still disastrous nonetheless. These fires endangered the lives of the guests where better fire-fighting equipment and procedures could have further prevented the event of a fire in the first place.
To help you keep up high standards of fire safety in your hospitality business, we have highlighted in this article the importance of fire safety in the hospitality sector and the best practices for fire prevention.
The Importance of Fire Safety in the Hospitality Sector
Fire safety should never be overlooked as the results of poor practices can be truly devastating. Below are some consequences of poor fire safety practices.
Injuries & Fatalities
One of the most important reasons for fire safety is to prevent any injuries, or worse, deaths. Keeping everyone safe is crucial in the case of a fire at your hospitality establishment.
Even with the best fire-fighting equipment installed in your establishment, injuries and fatalities can occur, especially when a fire is out of control.
But it still minimises the risk as much as possible when you have staff using the equipment correctly and have good fire procedures in place to get everyone out as safely and efficiently as possible.
For example, Cameron House hotel in Scotland (below) broke out in flames, and although the hotel staff did their best, unfortunately, there were 2 fatalities and a few injuries
Damage of Property & Costs
A fire costs money. Depending on the severity of the damage a fire causes, the costs could be tremendous (and that’s not even counting the intangible costs of moral damages). In fact, many businesses after a serious fire do not reopen.
There could be all sorts of damage to your hospitality business in the event of a fire, including:
- Structural damage to the property; or the structure could be considerably weakened
- Equipment damage; computers/machinery
- Physical documents; contracts and financial records could be destroyed
As well as property damage, there is the cost of human casualties (through insurance pay-outs for instance) and the loss of business as the site will need to be safe before reopening.
In 2008, the estimated cost of fire for England was £8.3bn, according to DCLG (Department for Communities and Local Government).
Damage of Brand
If for whatever reason, you don’t have the essential fire-fighting equipment installed, good fire procedures in place, or breach the fire safety regulations, you are putting lives at risk.
In terms of legal actions, if you breach the fire safety legislation, not only do you get a penalty fine, but it will be published online for everyone to see.
This will, of course, make your brand look unprofessional, and more importantly, unethical.
Although accidents do happen, if you don’t have adequate fire safety equipment and procedures in place, there are no excuses. The fire could have been avoidable or minimised and this will be recognised by everyone.
Fire Protection & Prevention for your Hospitality Business
Better equipment, staff training and thorough procedures in the event of a fire are all important in the protection and prevention of fire. We have listed below the main steps to take to protect your business.
Understand the Legal Requirements
There are laws put in place for fire safety in the UK. The legislation that is currently in place for England and Wales is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
This legislation states that for a workplace, someone designated as the ‘responsible person’ is required to carry out certain fire safety duties. These duties include ensuring the general fire precautions are satisfactory and conducting a fire risk assessment.
In hospitality, the most common breaches of fire regulations include:
- Fire doors being forced open
- Damaged fire doors
- Poorly fitted doors in frames
Committing a breach in fire regulations can lead to a hefty fine. Currently, the penalty for breaching the fire safety legislation is unlimited, meaning that the ‘responsible person’ will be prosecuted as an individual, not as a company.
Conduct a Fire Risk Assessment
All workplaces, including hospitality businesses, have to take a fire risk assessment. For hospitality businesses, usually the owner of the hotel/guesthouse etc. would be designated the ‘responsible person’ to carry out fire safety duties, and as the ‘responsible person’, completing a fire risk assessment comes under those duties. The owner of the business can hire someone competent for the role of the ‘responsible person’ or hire a professional risk assessor (read more about hiring a professional here).
Fire risk assessments need to be kept up-to-date, and if your business has 5 or more employees, the fire risk assessment needs to be a written document by law.
The fire risk assessment process is:
- Identifying the fire hazards
- Identifying people at risk
- Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks
- Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training
- Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly
Install Essential Fire Safety Equipment
To be able to protect your hospitality business in the case of a fire, having the essential fire safety equipment is crucial. Particular in areas of higher risk, such as kitchens and catering facilities in your hospitality establishment.
Essential fire safety equipment includes:
- Fire alarms; to detect a fire
- Fire extinguishers; to put out the flame(s)
- Emergency lighting; to help guide people to safety when evacuating if the main power supply is cut
- Dry/wet risers; to supply water to upper floors of taller buildings
- PAT tester; to check the safety of electrical equipment
Check out our essential fire safety equipment.
Test Your Equipment Regularly
This may sound simple, however, checking if the fire equipment you do have is functioning as it should do is something that can easily be overlooked by hotels and other businesses alike.
Fire-fighting equipment won’t save any lives if they don’t work. They should be checked regularly, such as when your business does their routine fire risk assessment to ensure your fire safety equipment is fit for the job.
Train your staff (and yourself)
Knowing what to do in the event of a fire breaking out in your hospitality business is crucial. If you know what to do, you could prevent the fire from spreading and becoming worse, thus saving lives and as much of the property as possible.
With a variety of different fire safety equipment available, you need to know what it’s used for and how to use it.
For example, in the UK fires are separated into a classification of 6 different categories:
- Class A – combustible fires
- Class B – flammable liquids
- Class C – flammable gases
- Class D – metal fires
- Electrical Fires
- Class F – cooking oil fires
Hence why there are many different types of fire extinguishers available containing different substances. By training you and your staff in fire safety, you will learn about what type of fire extinguisher is most suitable for each class of fire.
Take a look at our staff training courses here.
Keep Your Hospitality Business Safe
Now that you know the importance of fire safety in hospitality and the best practices for preventing a fire, it’s time for you to take the necessary step to keep your business safe.
If you are interested in staff training, hiring a professional risk assessor, essential fire safety equipment or anything else we have mentioned above, contact us here.