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Fire regulations are in place across the UK to keep guests safe in self-catering holiday accommodation. It’s vital for owners to stay up to date with guidance, ensure their properties are compliant with the law, and ensure the safety of their guests.
The UK Government has issued new guidance for ‘Small Holiday Lets,’ effective from 1st October 2023. Here’s all you need to know about ensuring your holiday let is fire-safe.
Click on the quick links below to learn about a specific topic, or continue reading our full guide to understand what the fire safety regulations mean for you.
We’ve condensed the crucial points of the new fire safety regulations for you below. Please remember that this overview is designed to give a general understanding and should not be relied upon to make your property safe. We strongly recommend reading the full Government guide to guarantee the safety and compliance of your holiday let.
Owners of small holiday accommodation must conduct a comprehensive fire risk assessment of their property.
This entails thoroughly inspecting your premises to identify fire hazards, establishing preventive measures, and implementing safeguards to protect anyone who uses your holiday let. It’s important to remember that this doesn’t just mean guests – you should bear in mind staff or anyone else who uses the property too.
As part of your risk assessment, it’s essential to identify and address any fire hazards within your property. We’ve listed some examples of the hazards outlined in the government guidance below.
Given that electrical issues are a common cause of fires, it’s vital to regularly inspect equipment in line with regulations, such as an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). There’s more information on this in the Government’s Holiday Let Fire Safety guide, or for more specific guidance on electrical safety, visit the Government website.
Although the law doesn’t prohibit guests from smoking in private spaces, the safest option is to forbid smoking throughout your holiday property. If you choose this policy, clearly display “no smoking” signs.
At Cornish Cottage Holidays, we do not permit guests to smoke in any of the properties we manage, and this is clearly stated in our listings.
While arson in your holiday cottage is a troubling thought, it’s an essential hazard to consider. To help mitigate the risk of arson, you should ensure a decent level of security to prevent unauthorised access to your property. Additionally, refuse and rubbish bins should be kept away from the property, and especially windows, to prevent fires spreading from outside.
Heating systems should undergo annual maintenance checks by a qualified contractor to ensure their safety. Avoid using portable heaters, especially near combustible materials or fire escape routes.
Some dangerous heater types should not be used at all, as described in the Government’s guidance PDF, which also lists considerations for properties with log burners.
The guidance document outlines measures to improve the safety of ovens and cooking equipment. The specific steps vary depending on the type of oven you have, but all types require regular maintenance and cleaning to reduce the risk of fire.
While candles can be an atmospheric addition for your guests, they pose a significant fire risk. It’s advisable not to provide candles for guests and to request that they don’t bring their own.
Effective housekeeping is a crucial factor in maintaining the safety of your accommodation. Ensure that refuse is regularly removed, and keep combustible materials away from potential ignition sources. Keep escape routes clear of rubbish or storage to allow guests to evacuate quickly in case of a fire.
All furniture and furnishings must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988.
Fires are often caused by the work of contractors. Ensure that all contractors are suitably qualified and competent, and adhere to the necessary safety measures when conducting hot work.
You must be careful to make sure dangerous substances are stored correctly. Barbecues or fire pits should be placed at a safe distance from the property, never on balconies. Gas for barbecues should only be used following the manufacturer’s instructions, and these instructions should be provided to guests.
The law requires clear escape routes to allow guests to exit your property as swiftly and safely as possible. Consider the diverse needs of your guests, such as elderly individuals, people with disabilities, or children, and ensure that the escape route is suitable for everyone. Escape routes should also be equipped with fire-safe doors and walls. For more information, consult the Government guide.
In the event of a fire, your holiday accommodation should be well-lit so guests can easily escape. Consider alternative lighting options in case of an electrical supply failure. This could just be taking advantage of street lighting outside, or providing additional lighting not reliant on the property’s circuitry, such as night lights, easily accessible torches, or specialist emergency lighting.
While not always essential in small premises with clear escape routes, larger properties may require signage to guide guests to safety in the event of a fire.
Guests are not expected to use firefighting equipment, as their primary focus is on evacuating safely. However, appropriate equipment should be provided, well-maintained, and equipped with instructions for use by staff.
Though guests are not expected to use firefighting equipment, you may choose to provide a small multi-purpose fire extinguisher and/or a fire blanket in the kitchen area. These can be purchased from various DIY outlets, with options guaranteed for five years. Regularly check the gauge to ensure that the ‘stored pressure’ has not leaked. Avoid providing multi-purpose powder fire extinguishers, as they are unsuitable for use in enclosed spaces.
Smoke alarms should be installed in all bedrooms and common areas, with heat alarms needed in kitchens and other areas where smoke may trigger false alarms. It’s also necessary to install a smoke alarm in your roof space if combustible materials are present. Smoke and heat alarms should be interlinked to sound simultaneously when a fire is detected.
Provide guests with a simple escape plan drawing, as they’re unlikely to be familiar with the property layout.
Regular testing and maintenance of fire safety equipment and procedures are essential. After all, a fire safety plan is useless if it doesn’t work in the event of a fire. For a comprehensive list of required tests, refer to the government guidance document.
Although not mentioned in the government’s new guidance, carbon monoxide detectors are essential for guest safety in your holiday property. It’s a legal requirement to have them in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a log burner or open fire.
You should also consider installing them in rooms with gas-burning appliances, like gas boilers or ovens, as carbon monoxide can be produced by faulty gas equipment.
The new fire safety guidance applies to holiday accommodations that sleep fewer than 10 people and have no more than 4 bedrooms on the first floor. This includes any type of accommodation, including cottages, chalets, caravans, and glamping pods.
Please note that the new Government guidance covers properties located on the ground floor or across the ground and first floor. Properties with more than 2 floors are not addressed in this specific document. If your holiday let falls into this category, you should adhere to other government guidance on premises with paying guest sleeping accommodation.
Owners who use Cornish Cottage Holidays can rest assured that we’ll provide them with guides to property safety and legal regulations. We’ll also be happy to suggest professional fire risk assessors to help you carry out your risk assessment.
Although we can’t advise you on, and aren’t responsible for, fire safety at your property, we hope that by doing these things we’re starting you off on the right foot. You can then read into the matter further and seek your own advice as and when you feel it’s needed.