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Fire Prevention: Hotels

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she has considered the merits of awarding a certificate of compliance to bed and breakfast establishments which have complied with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. (258076)

Fire certificates were abolished when the raft of fire safety legislation was replaced by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. There are no plans to reintroduce any certification regime for fire safety in England.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect on the bed and breakfast industry of variations in application of the provisions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 between local authorities. (258078)

As no two premises are likely to be the same, a ‘one size fits all' approach to fire safety is inappropriate. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is non-prescriptive. It is for the responsible person to assess what fire safety measures will best deliver an adequate level of protection in the light of the specific circumstances of their premises.

In carrying out their audit and enforcement responsibilities, individual fire safety officers will use their professional judgment and expertise to consider the extent to which the fire safety measures in place in a particular building deliver an adequate level of compliance with the provisions of the Order. Under the Regulators' Compliance Code local fire and rescue authorities are expected to implement the Hampton principles of better regulation when delivering these functions.

We have commissioned a qualitative evaluation into the initial impact of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 on representatives from the business community, the enforcing authorities and the fire safety industry and hope to be in a position to publish this shortly.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she has made an assessment of the merits of awarding a grant to bed and breakfast establishments to assist them in complying with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. (258080)

All those with responsibility for commercial premises or other buildings to which the public have access should ensure that an adequate level of fire protection is in place to minimise the risk to life in the event of a fire. These costs will vary according the nature of individual premises and the risks associated with their use.

We do not consider it would appropriate to offer any specific segment of the business community financial assistance to comply with the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) enforcement notices were issued, (b) prohibition notices were issued and (c) prosecutions were brought by fire authorities against bed and breakfast establishments under the provisions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in (i) England, (ii) Devon and (iii) East Devon in each year since it came into force. (258177)

The first full year for which this information is available is 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008. During this period Fire and Rescue Services in England reported issuing 947 enforcement notices and 71 prohibition notices, and bringing seven prosecutions to hotels or bed breakfast premises. The information provided to the Department from Fire and Rescue Services does not require distinction between hotels and bed and breakfast premises.

Separate information on Devon and East Devon is not centrally held. The figures for the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority area are 173 enforcement notices, two prohibition notices and no prosecutions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she has considered the merits of providing free professional assistance to bed and breakfast establishments in complying with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. (258178)

We have not considered providing free professional advice on complying with the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to businesses in any sector. We believe that those with responsibility for the premises are best placed to understand and manage the risk from fire in their premises by carrying out and implementing the findings of a fire safety risk assessment.

To help the proprietors of bed and breakfast establishments in particular comply with their duties under the order, we have recently published a free booklet ‘Do you have paying guests?’ which aims to offer straightforward and practical fire safety advice. This is in addition to the suite of technical fire safety risk assessment guidance documents, including one specifically for those involved in the provision of sleeping accommodation, which is available to download free from:

www.communities.gov.uk/firesafety

or to purchase in hard copy.

Where a responsible person feels unable to carry out their duties under the order they can ask or employ someone with greater knowledge, experience or expertise to help them. We believe it is right that businesses should pay for professional services where they deem it necessary or appropriate to use them.