Comments Made on our Online Survey
The comments below were made by those completing our online survey:
We are being asked to install 9 fire/heat detectors for 3 letting bedrooms as well as fire doors in a 16th century listed farmhouse.
Having worked in the fire industry for 32 years I have as much if not more knowledge of fire regs than many Fire Officers. I have maintained from my first sight of the order that it would kill the industry if not applied sensibly. Small B&B are essential to the tourism industry most are less than 6 letting bed spaces and part of a persons home - they do not have the financies or make the profits to full fill this in its entirety. Page 20 of the sleeping area guide suggests a compensation procedure allow lets say more detection if physicals cant be complied with. Page 97 refers to a "must have list" that is unclear and not inproportion to the risks involved. The order was designed to make people aware of the risk and how to manage it. If all that is to happen is the fire officer will just instruct and issue closure notices if page 97 is not complied with then we have wasted a lot of money giving the Fire officers the power they already had.
Perhaps a Government grant should be allocated so small businesses can afford the work required?
Yet another piece of legislation introduced under the radar without proper airing in public first. This campaign must succeed.
The cost and impracticability of making changes to our premises to comply with the new fire regs has meant that we can no longer offer B&B in our 17th century farmhouse and have reduced the number of letting rooms to two which are in a separate courtyard. We are undecided whether it is worth continuing to operate with only 2 rooms.
I support 100% the aims behind your campaign and hope the outcome will be a pragmatic and commonsense set of simple 'rules' or guidelines for the smallest businesses. One of the sad outcomes of the present confusion is the mutual distrust that is apparent between affected businesses and the fire departments, who do outstanding work that we all recognise and sometimes need. I for one would be horrified if this trust is weakened. Both 'sides' in this situation are badly affected through no fault of their own. Both sides need government clarification in order to return to a situation of mutual respect.
As holders of an old Fire Certificate, not licensed and not employing 5 or more persons, plus we can prove a paperwork trail of alarm testing and extinguisher inspection, why should we have to write it down on more paperwork? Writing it down does not prove a thing: never has, never will.
I feel that I was threatened and bullied to comply with costly 'improvements' or be shut down.
New regs have become a nightmare for many: enforcement is disproportionate & inconsistent. A family home is being asked to adhere to the same rules as a 200 bed hotel. Small businesses are taking a hammering under the present regime. Who is behind it? Brussels or New Labour? Many would dearly love to know!
We have complied with the regulations as far as we can without incurring huge expense. If these regulations are enforced upon the home we have lived in for 34 years, we will just close the B&B. I am within striking distance of the Olympic events in 2012, surely the government should be doing more to find accommodation for visitors, not causing B&Bs to close down?
I am new to the industry. Bought a residential house - Grade II listed, went through the "hoops" of change of use. Got it, refurbished, installed en-suites (2 Doubles, 1 Twin). Opened for business. Thought/read about my responsibilities as regards to fire regs. So, attended a course at my local fire dept. Got a lot of very good info. My overall impression was - and is - These people (fire(wo)men) do not want to close you down. What they do want is to never see a fire death again.
So, go easy on their interpretation of current regulations. They are not the villains.
That said, FR3 [in "B&B Case Studies"] is very close to my situation. Will cost me cash. My business case is a pretty fine shave already.
Oh - FR6 states an unhelpful fact; "There is nothing in the act which forces them to do this". Fire authorities have had, for many years, the ability to close you down. They can and they do and yep, they will.
The regulations have to be appropriate and pertinent. To impose these blanket rules on the thousands of small dedicated B&B owners throughout the country will simply drive them out of business and deprive the country of a huge source of tourist income.
I believe the risk assessment approach can be the best way to achieve safety for guests and family within a family home B&B. Prescriptive standards do not afford true risk to be considered as they effectively treat each case as worst case scenario. I am sure my home could be set on fire by terrorists making a homemade bomb which goes wrong but risk unlikely and 30 minute fire doors and escape signs unlikely to save lives.
We are a two room B&B - if these new regulations were enforced we cease trading as a B&B rather than make major alterations to our home (built in 1832).
All B and Bs with 6 guests or less, who are accommodated within an existing domestic dwelling home, and not in purpose built outbuildings or accommodation, should be competely exempt, as they always had been.
There is no evidence that there has been any risk which has been avoided by compliance with the new rules or that any significant risk existed before the new rules were introduced. If there is evidence, it has never been produced or debated.
The majority of tourists are accommodated in small B and Bs in the UK. Only a minority are accommodated in larger guest house or hotels. Failure to be reasonable is causing the destruction of most of the UK's tourist idustry becasue the cost of installing the precautions demanded by the rules are too expensive. For example: just the cost of installing the simplest linked smoke/heat alarm system exceeds the entire annual turn over of the average small B and B. The task can be done just as effectively with a series of cheap battery alarms.
I am most impressed and grateful that you are campaign on our behalf regarding an issue that may very well cause us to close the small B and B we hope to run from now through our retirement to make us self sufficient pensioners.
Most fires that happen are usually in over-crowded bed-sits, not in an owner-run B & B, I agree with the wired in fire/smoke alarm system, but strongly disagree in wrecking the doors of my home to "fire-proof" especially in a Grade 2 listed, surely the alerting is sufficient.
We already have a fire system installed but have been advised by the alarm company that it may not comply to new regulations. How can we check ourselves rather than jsdut take the word of a busssiness wanting to sell us a new system, that may in fact not be required at all, if we have no firm written guideline s to refer to? We've heard such bad press about the over zealousness of certain fire inspectors, that we are too scared to ask..that can't be right..we just want to be safe!!
When the fire brigade last attended our premises it took three of them to work out how to test our new type digital alarms - and yet they expect us to KNOW and test them weekly.
We have been in business 38 years running a small B&B which is our home. we are now up to date with all the regulations and find the new alarm system very sensitive
Boil a kettke and all the alarms go off, have a bath to much steam burn the toast crafty smoke etc. - all is out of proportion
for a small guest house it has cost us a lot of money especially we are at retiring but cannot afford to retire - it had to be done for they would have closed us down.
We need clear and consistent advice on who needs to comply and steps need to be taken with all Fire Authorities so that they all act in the same way.
We offer B&B for 6 guests. We had a visit from the Fire Brigade..who were very helpful and only needed to fit battery smoke alarms to each letting room. (we would have closed down if the changes were "too draconian").
We have been inspected by aa overzealous safety officer who was not prepared to discuss anything and was (we feel) extremely heavy handed. Others locally have had the same experience. We have always been compliant and have held a full fire certificate for 9 years.
I support the campaign - it is patently absurd to expect small businesses & B&Bs to comply to the same legislation that applies to large organisations.
Lack of consistency in enforcing the act is causing great concern and unnecessary expense to a number of B&Bs. What seems ok to one fire officer is deemed unacceptable to another. It is becoming a lottery as to how the act is applied. A level playing field for all establishments is required.
What happened to the owner's own risk based analysis of his property?
It would be very helpful if litrature could be written which anyone can understand. My husband and I both have degrees and we still find it a mine-field.
What will happen with the 2012 Olympics, when Londoners are being
urged to open their homes to visitors? If we have to comply, then so
should everyone, and that would limit the accommodation available very
severely. My business is in my own home and it is ludicrous to imagine
that we do not take the greatest care of our own lives, let alone those of our guests.
I do not have many guests.
What on earth does Risk Assessment mean!!
Whilst agreeing with a fire safety inspection and willing to accept advice, being a 3 bedroomed B&B, rules regulations & laws as levelled at a larger business employing personnel is too heavy handed - - - we employ nobody.
To recap, we welcome an inspection and advice. That is all that is needed in a private house offering 3 room B&B.
I agree that simple measures such as emergency lighting of some sort should be available but disagree that major structural work is required in a family home, eg fire doors etc.
I was so frightened by it that I paid a company £300 to do it for me and I think a lot of people feel the same and can't afford it. There are so many faults in it all.
We were totally confused by the new regulations as they related to our property. It was a minefield. It was only because Shropshire Fire Officers came to inspect and advise us, we were able to follow the rules. We know many other proprietors who are confused and have not received advice. Why are neighbouring county fire services not interested in following the new rules as Shropshire is?
I think there should be more difference between what kind of fire precautions that a hotel needs to take compared with a small B and B run and lived in by the owner, with no outside help. It can simply cost too much for a small business to keep within the present law.
A brief example of the overkill regs. I am being forced to comply
A couple of years ago I had Dorguards put on all 4 fire doors. ( Automatic door closers which respond to the fire alarms ).
They cost me over £500.00 to install. I am now told to remove them because if there was a fire and for some reason the alarms did not go off then the fire doors would not close. i have tested those fire alarms every week for the last 22 years and they have never failed yet.They are serviced every 6 months and checked weekly because I legally have to. My nice guest house is now dull and boring. I cannot leave the door to the bar or dining room open nor to the TV lounge. I don't have a reception desk area any more because all ideas to make it smoke and fire proof have met with dissaproval by the fire officer. So I am now conducting Reception and billing over my Bar. Is this what the Legislation is suppose to do? The fire officer I am dealing with at the moment is the FIRE OFFICER FROM HELL. He is everything your campaign is trying to change.
I fear we need a court case; someone prepared to challenge a heavy-handed fire officer. This is, however, expensive and uncertain of outcome. I, however, WILL challenge it in court if necessary (i.e. if I am affected by a heavy-handed Fire Officer, and I'd look for support in that case. I don't think it's going to happen; we did have the Fire Brigade around when we started and they thought we were compliant (and were VERY laid back). Since then we have improved facilities with mains-backed fire alarms, extra fire extinguishers an an active inspection regime.
The reasons for creating the new regulations were purely and simply and
1. To relieve the government and its departments of any responsibility.
2. To create more work for the service industries and consequently more tax income for the government.
I have had a fire certificate since 1980 - fire doors, fire alarm, emergency lights. I have been told it is all obsolete and I must get all new ( I have never had any trouble - fire bell went off if we comprehensively burnt the toast; emergency lights went on if we had a power cut). I have just had to pay over five THOUSAND pounds for a whole new fire system - which goes off now and again in an upstairs corridor for nothing, and fails to go off when I leave a frying pan of oil on and it smokes out the kitchen nor when I left a saucepan of mushroom soup to boil dry and again filled the kitchen with smoke. I am very, very unhappy and upset. All my doors are half hour fire doors but they are suggesting I should get all new fire doors. I have put the hinges and strips on the old ones as I consider this is only sensible . I am frightened and cannot really afford any of this as I am only a little business in a lovely old house that was once the family home. I will very, very much offer my support.
I was very pleased with the result of our recent Fire Officer visit, however I can see as with all government directives that everthing depends upon the officer involved. We have had some appalling fires in this country, and it would appear that in some cases there has been a total lack of SENSIBLE enforcement, I do not know what the outcome of the Hotel fire in Cornwall was, It would be useful to know, does anyone have any info regarding the Fire Depts. findings of this incident?
So far I haven't been inspected & will avoid it as much as possible for fear of the outcome . These concerns contradict the whole intent of the Bill which should have been to encourage B&B owners to take sensible precautions to ensure the safety of their guests.
Please let common sense prevail. we all need to be aware of the dangers of fire but this seems to be an extremely heavy handed approach.
We were 'advised' by FO that we did not comply after Oct 06 new legislation. We had to spend £10K on wireless system - plagued & harrassed by so called 'experts & installers'- it took 6 months to find a Co we felt could do the job without ripping us off. We asked our FO to meet with us & installer to discuss our requirements - FO said it was 1st time he'd ever been involved in nitty gritty implementation of legislation and nearly fell off his chair when he was told how much it was going to cost us - maybe more poeple should insist that their FO does the same! FO said we could remove some fire doors - when I later undertook a Health & Safetly course - a free inspection of our business was offered - surpise was expressed that the doors were missing!- needless to say - we've kept the doors!
We would stop offering B&B if we had to spend much money and it is our home and don't want it spoilt. We sleep in and feel safe with the precautions we have taken.
8 years ago under the previous regulations we did not need a certificate setting up as a 2 bedroom B&B with a farm cottage. I asked the fire service for advice and it was obvious that they just cut and pasted all the fire regulations that applied to a hotel and block of flats and advised us to follow suit. In addition the officer who came out made it quite plain that the report would be used if we did not follow them and ever we had a fire. Our builder and building inspector were gobsmacked when I showed them the report. I was not suprised to hear how the fire service were using this new legislation. One local group of fire officers called for all houses to be fitted with sprinklers a few years ago. My experience is that their only concern is to save lives and will advise accordingly without any regard to cost, no matter how large. Left as it is many small businesses will be forced out. Having talked to the building inspector we followed the advice where practicable.
My most recent fire inspection was over-zealous and has cost me thousands!!! When I thought the work was complete the Fire Service moved the goal posts and demanded yet more alterations. Prior to this I have been compliant for 25 years with no fire incidents. The Fire Service are using agressive and intimidating tactics.
I have spent the last three weeks being very upset, frustrated and enduring sleepless nights. Our local fire officer wants us to implement expensive changes, but is unable to advise in any way. Spending over 30% of our annual turnover on this is absolutely ridiculous, so I will not be able to continue my business, although I feel that fire safety is very important within any situation.
The financial cost of compliance is disproportionate to most small B&B's turnovers and profits. Draco would be pround to see such draconian measures inflicted on small businesses.
Thank God for you.
I am being prosecuted - 28 charges.
My fire risk assessor says unfairly so.
The system is a total mess up.
I am innocent and have been railroaded by the fire authority.
I have been in business for 25 years and can clearly see the need for your campaign. Well done - at last some common sense.
My b&b was built in1749, to fit fire doors etc would wreck the originality of the building - the very reason people enjoy staying with us.
It's expensive but if it saves lives of guests and/or owners it comes into perspective. How much for a life??? Think Torquay. The way it's being enforced so differently does raise issues and their should be granting available. The fire systems do not have to be hardwired and the radio wave type are non-invasive and very easily installed.
The new regs have been imposed by a government who has a habit of not thinking through any of their new laws. Sound-bite laws by a sound-bite government. Typical of the last 10 years.
People running b&bs from their home take fire safety very seriously, perhaps that's why I can find no record of any serious fires in small b&bs. Its our home.
We used to have a larger place which was subject to the (then) fire regulations and was inspected by the Fire Officer. We knew where we stood and that it was his duty to make sure we understood and were fully compliant. We never had any difficulty. Now, no one seems to be sure of the regulations and the Fire Officers seem to be swinging from one extreme to another. This could put many more small business out of business - surely not good given the present economic climate?
We have had a vist from our local fire officer. We had a fire certifiacte but have so far spent £8,000 trying to meet the new standandard as HE sees them.
The Fire Safety Engineer who services my B&B (3 letting rooms) gives the impression that regulations which I had assumed only apply to large hotels, for instance alarm sounders giving a minimum level of 75dB at guest bed heads, apply to this size B&B.
I have a B&B in which I can accommodate no more than six guests in four rooms. (Is the six guest figure still relevant to any of these rules?-I am not sure - indeed I am confused.) I attended a seminar before regs came out at which a Fire Officer from Chichester gave certain guidelines on whether fire doors would be required etc. When visited by fire officers - un-announced - I was told completely different requirements and though I have no employees told that a written Fire Risk Assessment would be required to be produced; fire doors installed on all guest rooms and other rooms; emergency lighting; illuminated exit signs; smoke detectors in all rooms - all of which is costing me huge sums of money. I would have closed had I not been in the midst of small extension/re-furbishment scheme so have to see it through - it will take years to get the money back and results in MY HOME looking like an institution or cinema. B&B is a unique feature of the UK tourist scene and many of my guests choose this type of accommodation so they can stay in a family home.
You can contact us at: Campaign@FireSafetySENSE.com