Latest Official Guidance

This page details the new official guidance for small accommodation providers (eg those offering B&B or self-catering accommodation in their family home), issued by the Westminster Government on 18th November 2008 and distributed during 2009 to small accommodation providers by the Government and with the help of VisitBritain, the Bed & Breakfast Association and others.

This guidance takes the form of a Government booklet for the accommodaton owners, "Do You Have Paying Guests?", backed up by an official Government Circular (60-2008) to Fire and Rescue Authorities.

The new booklet was produced with the participation of the Bed and Breakfast Association, Farm Stay UK, VisitBritain, EASCO and other industry bodies.

Do You Have Paying Guests?
'Do You Have Paying Guests?'
The above link is to the Government's web page on the NEW (November 2008) guidance booklet about the new regulations, for small accommodation providers (eg B&B owners). This has been produced in consultation with industry bodies (including the Bed and Breakfast Association, Farm Stay UK, VisitBritain, and EASCO), and is more user-friendly than previous publications.
It includes a sample "Fire Risk Assessment" and a blank template.

The Fire Safety Minister told the Bed and Breakfast Association on 2nd October 2008 that "the Government expects [Fire and Rescue Authorities] to apply the principles of better regulation by carrying out their duties in an equitable, practical and consistent manner. In practical terms, this means they are expected to act openly, in proportion to the identified risk and, wherever possible, to allow the [B&B owner] a reasonable timeframe in which to implement any fire safety improvements".

The Minister, referring to the above booket ("Do You Have Paying Guests?"), said: "The booklet has, through CFOA [Chief Fire Officers' Association] involvement, the support of the Chief Fire Officers throughout England. It is our belief that this booklet will help embed a practical, common sense approach to the enforcement of the [RRFSO regulations] by Fire and Rescue Authorities".

After the involvement of the industry bodies behind this Campaign in its drafting, "Do You Have Paying Guests?" is much more helpful to owners of B&Bs and other small premises than previous official Government guidance.

For instance, it specifically states the following:

"If your premises are similar to a family home, the fire safety precautions you will need to take are likely to be simpler than those needed for larger premises with more complicated layouts and staff."

"In many cases, you should be able to buy fire safety products for use in small premises from local retailers, such as DIY stores. These are likely to be less expensive than fire safety products which have been designed for larger and more complicated premises."

"What you need will depend on your business and your premises. The law does not require any particular measures to be in place. What it does say is that you must adequately manage the overall risk."

"Premises similar to a family home (i.e. two or three storeys) are likely to need an automatic fire detection system that runs from the mains electricity (with battery back-up) and consists of interconnected detectors. Detectors will be needed in the staircase, corridors and bedrooms. This (technically known as a Grade D LD2 system) has been designed for domestic premises. In the very smallest accommodation (no more than two storeys) which only has two or three guest bedrooms and short travel distances to a safe place outside, a connected system of detectors with a 10-year battery, or radio interlinked detectors may be good enough. (Technically, this is known as a Grade F LD2 system). You may be able to fit a Grade F system yourself."

On 'Emergency Lighting', the booklet states: "If a fire knocks out the normal inside lighting, you should think about whether any ‘borrowed lighting’, for example from nearby street lamps, would be enough to allow people on the premises to find their way out. If not, it may be acceptable, in small premises, to rely on rechargeable torches which come on automatically if the main supply fails. You should have one in each room with a sign that says what they are for."

On 'Fire Fighting Equipment', the booklet states: "One extinguisher on each floor near the stairs and a fire blanket in the kitchen should be enough in most small premises."

On 'Fire Escape Signs', the Government guidance for small B&Bs is "Signs are only required where they are needed. In small premises the escape route and the front door are likely to be obvious, so there may not be a need for emergency exit signs."

On doors, the Guidance is: "You should keep all doors which open on to escape routes closed, especially at night. This is very important in the kitchen. If you leave doors open, it is less likely you will escape safely, even if the room has a fire detector. Although self-closing devices are a good way to make sure doors are closed, they can impact on the appearance and affect how you use the premises. If you decide these would be unsuitable, ‘in-frame closers’ or rising-butt hinges may be acceptable alternatives. Doors need to be strong enough to hold back smoke and fire long enough to give you time to escape. For small premises, a reasonably solid timber door that fits well into its frame is likely to be good enough. Any internal hollow ‘egg-box’-type door would not offer adequate protection and should be replaced. Exit doors, such as the front or back door, should always be easy to unlock and must not need a key to unlock from the inside. A simple Yale-type latch or thumb turn is usually good enough."

We think that you can see from these quotes that the official guidance for small B&Bs is now considerably more sensible and proportionate than the precautions which many fire officers have been demanding of some B&Bs before this new guidance was produced with the involvement of the Bed and Breakfast Association, Farm Stay UK, VisitBritain, EASCO and other industry bodies behind the Fire Safety SENSE Campaign.

Fire Safety Circular 60-2008

The above link goes to the Government's web page on its official "Circular" of 18 November 2008 to all the Fire & Rescue Authorities, advising them that "Do You Have Paying Guests?" is contains the new benchmarks/guidelines for enforcement of appropriate fire precautions on small B&Bs. This emphasises that the Government sees the "Do You Have Paying Guests?" leaflet as setting new benchmarks for fire authorities to follow in their enforcement of the regulations on small premises.