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CHANGES TO FIRE SAFETY REGULATIONS – An overview

On 1st October 2023, the government issued new regulations for fire safety in holiday homes in England. The purpose of these changes are to ensure that all holiday lets are acting safely and making provision for fire safety, making it as safe as possible for guests during their stay.

 

As members of the Professional Association of Self-Caterers (PASC), we're delighted to say that we have now engaged with a Level 3 Fire Safety Assessor (FSA) with several decades of experience, much of which has been in the hospitality sector. We soon hope to understand what exactly is needed and how best to implement the necessary changes, without losing the charming period feel of the cottage.

Most holiday cottages will fall under the ‘small paying guest accommodation’ which is defined as ‘a single premises of ground floor, or ground and first floor, providing sleeping accommodation for a maximum of 10 persons, with no more than four bedrooms on the first floor.  The regulations for large, complex properties is still undergoing changes, so those with properties that have more than four bedrooms, sleep more than 10 people, are over two floors, or have an open plan kitchen or ‘inner rooms’ should refer to existing guidance which will likely to be reviewed in 2024.  

Below we have tried to summarise the new fire safety regulations for the benefit of our guests and other cottage owners. 

Fire Risk Assessment 

Eash holiday cottage owner has to carry out a risk assessment to ensure guests are safe as well as outlining all the potential hazards.  

The new regulations mean that it is now a legal requirement for cottage owners to fill out a comprehensive, written fire risk assessment that covers all areas of fire risk within the property. A copy of this fire risk assessment must be on display within the property.

Fire checks and fire safety equipment 

It is obligatory to provide a foam fire extinguisher on each floor plus a fire blanket on display in the kitchen. 

 

Annual inspections of this equipment are to be conducted by a competent contractor.

 

However, weekly checks on all fire safety equipment and exit routes must be carried out, as well as checks at each change of occupancy. The results of these checks must be recorded. Please note that multi-purpose powder extinguishers should not be provided, as they are not suitable for use in enclosed spaces.

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Emergency Lighting 

Emergency lighting is required in all bedrooms and along escape routes. This is to ensure guests remain safe should the property experience a blackout or power failure. In most cases ‘borrowed lighting’ (e.g. from street lamps) would be sufficient enough to allow guests to find their way out of a property.

  

However, additional options such as battery-powered torches and emergency escape lights might be needed. A fire risk assessor would be able to advise on suitable options for each property when carrying out a fire risk assessment. 

Chimneys and candles 

Properties with an open fire or log burner should feature an adequate hearth and provide a fireguard. Chimneys should be swept annually. 

 

Candles should be prohibited, and a clear policy is required for guests. 

 

A carbon monoxide alarm is mandatory in every room where there is a fossil-fuel burning appliance such as an open fire, log burner, or fossil-fuelled boiler or oven.  

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Escape Routes and Fire Doors 

The new fire safety regulations state that all escape routes must have doors with 30-minute fire protection capabilities. Escape routes should be kept clear at all times and easy to use by everyone. In most holiday homes escape routes won’t need to be marked as the main exits are doors that are in constant use, however, should larger or more complex property with several means of escape, will need to make it clear where all the main fire exits are.  

Exit doors (front or back) must be able to be opened without a key, for example, a Yale / thumb turn lock, providing an emergency fire exit. 

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Linked, hard-wired smoke detectors are now required in bedrooms, living rooms, and protected escape routes. This means they must be in hallways, corridors, staircases, living rooms, and dining rooms that lead to the main fire exit. If a property is large or has a complicated layout, a more sophisticated system may be required. New legislation (2021) requires the system to be radio interlinked so that if one alarm goes off, it triggers all the others to sound too. 

Fire Alarm Checks

The recommendation for any fire detection and alarm check is six monthly, this is for complex systems only such as ones with a fire panel. In addition, housekeepers/cleaners must do a weekly or on every changeover check and keep a log of this.

Holiday let properties must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations for all upholstered furniture and beds. This does not apply to antique furniture. 

For a comprehensive guide on the new fire safety regulations take a look at the small paying guest accommodation guide on the Government website.

Different legal requirements of a long-term rental and a holiday let 

The best place to start is understanding the difference between a long-term rental and a short-term holiday let. While the legislation between the two is similar, there are a few key differences. 

 

A long-term let is classed as a property rented out for a minimum of six to twelve months at a time. A property let for this period is controlled by various specific regulations and is considered relatively low risk in comparison to short-term holiday lets. 

 

A short-term holiday let is a property that is let out to holidaymakers for brief time periods. The property is furnished and is rented out from a few nights up to a number of weeks. Holiday let owners are expected to provide fully furnished, well-equipped, overnight accommodation and adequate services in a property. It is this distinction which dictates the difference in legal requirements between the two types of letting. 

  

Spot Checked by the Fire Service 

The Fire & Rescue Service can turn up at any property at any time to check if business premises are fire-safe – and that includes holiday lets. 

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