Only 52% of 8,200 licensed premises were satisfactorily compliant when it came to fire safety requirements, according to a Government audit in 2015. Areas of concern were over emergency exits, maintenance precautions, and risk assessments. The latter are a legal requirement, and amongst other things, determine how many people can be accommodated in a building at one time; clearly a crucial consideration when it comes to popular bars and clubs.
Fire risk assessments were frequently found to be inadequate, either being out of date, or not having been done in the first place.
The price for non-compliance with this requirement can be high. The serious risk of danger for customers and staff clearly is the most significant factor. But fines for failure to comply can be high – several years ago a hotel in Finchley was fined £210,000 following concerns after a fire broke out, and an enforcement order and fine of £200,000 was imposed on another London hotel for flouting requirements, and failing to put right deficiencies that had been identified. Even luxury hotels are not exempt, as an exclusive Wilmslow hotel was charged with three counts of serious fire safety breaches and received a £75,000 fine.
Fire safety regulations place a statutory duty on the “Responsible Person” to protect anyone on the premises and their duties include:
- Carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment to identify specific fire risks and appropriate fire precautions.
- Producing a policy to minimise risk
- Developing procedures for dealing with fire, including fire drills and evacuation and re-admittance
- Providing staff training and carrying out fire drills
- Maintaining clear means of escape, signage, fire detection and alarm systems and extinguishers.
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The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.