According to the results of a poll conducted by IFSEC Global, the public perception of industries that are worst for fire safety breaches include restaurants and takeaways, HMOs and bars. These three industries accounted for over 70 per cent of the poll results, with the remainder being made up of industrial premises, hotels, care homes, commercial buildings and shops.
HMOs refer to houses in multiple occupation; these include houses split into bedsits, a house or flat share arrangement where each tenant has their own tenancy agreement, students living in shared accommodation, as well as hotels and bed and breakfasts which are not just used for holidays.
Why these industries are top culprits
It appears that buildings at the most risk of fire safety breaches are those that also serve as domestic premises. These places often have large numbers of visitors, which makes an unexpected fire event even more dangerous as many people will need to be evacuated.
The kitchen of a restaurant or a takeaway is a major fire hazard. The presence of ignition materials, naked flames, intense cooking heat, built up grease and inaccessible ducts all combine to elevate the risk of an unexpected kitchen fire.
HMOs on the other hand, tend to suffer complex layouts and large volumes of rubbish. Each occupant is also likely to have his or her own electrical appliances, potentially increasing the risk of electrical fires starting.
Bars are dimly lit places where large amounts of alcohol are often consumed by patrons. Cigarettes smoked in front of or behind the bar can cause a fire which spreads quickly.
How can these businesses ensure better compliance with fire safety regulations?
Restaurant and takeaway employees need to be adequately trained on the proper use of kitchen equipment. They also need to be aware of all fire safety hazards.
Landlords of HMOs are legally obliged to make sure their property is fit to be leased to tenants. There are a number of duties landlords must observe, one of which includes the general upkeep and maintenance of the building and its structure. Installing smoke alarms, arranging gas safety inspections, managing asbestos as well checking the safety of electrical appliance provided under the lease are all part and parcel of a landlord’s duties. A fire risk assessment is also required.
Tenants should be made aware of fire hazards, preventative measures and safe exit routes.
Employees of bars need to be trained in fire safety procedures and how to evacuate of a large number of people.
Fire risk assessments
All businesses can benefit from a fire risk assessment, which involves having a qualified person evaluating your premises to identify the likelihood of a fire starting, and the different ways in which these fire dangers can be managed.
To ensure you hire someone competent, check that they are registered with a professional body such as BAFE. Alternatively, make sure they have a third party certification for their competence by a UKAS accredited body.