Current fire safety legislation requires all businesses within England and Wales to carry out a risk assessment and introduce fire safety precautions in addition to installing and maintaining the necessary fire safety equipment.
Appoint a ‘competent person’ with sufficient training and experience to assist you, this might be you if you have sufficient training and experience.
Carry out a written fire risk assessment this is defined as a ‘suitable and sufficient’ assessment of risks.
Take general fire precautions to ensure the safety of the building and the people in it and take thorough precautions to minimise the risks identified from the written fire risk assessment.
Make sure you have enough appropriate fire fighting equipment such as smoke detectors, fire alarms and fire extinguishers etc.
Make sure there are enough suitable emergency routes and exits from your pub and that they are kept clear at all times.
Establish a procedure for the evacuation of the premises through fire drills for staff and customers (For instance I always had one fire drill per year during opening hours and rewarded customers with a free drink token for participating.)
Ensure that your pub and fire fighting equipment are properly maintained and a suitable maintenance programme for both is in place and being adhered to.
Provide your staff (and any contractors) with clear information so they are aware of the risks identified in the written risk assessment, all protective and preventative measures and procedures for evacuation.
Train your staff (when they join and then periodically during their employment) on what to do in the event of a fire.
Ensure that smoking is well controlled, using ashtrays and allowing ash to cool in metal bins before being put into the general waste bins.
Make sure that you have a suitable number of fire extinguishers and that they have been serviced every twelve months.
Questions for you to consider:
If you store highly flammable substances in your pub (e.g. paints, thinners and LPG) do you really need to store them?
Are fire doors in good condition and kept closed? (They reduce the speed at which fire spreads through a building.)
Have you checked all the fire escape routes to make sure they are clear and unlocked and that escape stairways and doors are in good condition?
Have your electrical appliances been serviced and PAT tested within the past twelve months?
Does the pub have a fire alarm? Is it serviced and working fully? Does it extend to your private quarters?
Is there any combustible waste that can be removed? (We all know what a pain it can be to get rid of all that cardboard and packaging but you must keep on top of it!) If you have a build up that cannot be disposed of during the normal cycle of waste collections you might consider asking your waste disposal company for an additional collection. The relatively small cost will be much less than the costs associated with a fire.
Are potential sources of fire (such as your boiler) kept clear of anything that can burn?
Is your electrical installation in good condition and maintained?
Have you told all your staff (and anyone living in the pub or contractors working in the pub) how to escape and what to do in the event of a fire?
Complete Fire Safety Management have this to say about an area sometimes overlooked or minimised in the process of risk assessment:
“As part of the Fire Risk Assessments you undertake, you should consider your neighbours. It may be that the nearest building is 50 metres away, and there is good separation. For the majority of properties, this is unlikely and where there are neighbouring properties, you need to consider the potential of fire spread from their building to yours, as well as vice versa. This can seem a complex issue, but initially, a number of simple factors should be considered.
The materials used to construct the buildings are a key consideration. Where both buildings are built from brick or other masonry and have no openings (windows and doors), the likelihood of fire spread between the two is low. However, in cases where the buildings are constructed of lightweight materials with unprotected openings, the likelihood of fire spread is increased. It may be the case that there is little you can do to change the risk posed from a neighbour, however physical alterations could be made to your own property to reduce that risk. Equally, in cases where a fire in the neighbouring building has been raised as a risk to your building, it will be necessary to evacuate staff in case of fire.”
Please note that this checklist is only a starting point.