Our fire safety inspecting officers regularly visit commercial premises which have sleeping accommodation above them as they have a duty to ensure commercial premises remain compliant with fire safety legislation – the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
They have worked with several restaurants and takeaways where people sleeping above the premises have been found to be at high risk should a fire break out in the business.
We are always keen to provide advice and guidance to owners of shops, bars, cafes, takeaways and restaurants beneath sleeping accommodation, to help them ensure they are complying with the relevant legislation.
Steve Hawkins, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Head of Protection, said:
“Commercial premises beneath sleeping accommodation should have suitable fire safety measures and arrangements in place to protect occupants within the work environment and the residents above them.
“If the business below provides sleeping accommodation above, the responsible person must ensure that a suitably linked fire detection system is in place to alert anyone in the event of an emergency.
“Due to the additional risk that certain processes such as cooking present, a linked fire detection system in this instance will protect not only the business but also the accommodation above.”
There are a number of ways the person responsible for a commercial premises can ensure that they are doing everything they can to keep people safe.
Fire risk assessment
Have a fire risk assessment carried out by a third-party accredited risk assessor and put control measures in place to mitigate any significant hazards that are highlighted. Make sure you carry out a periodic review of your fire risk assessment.
Ducting and extraction systems
Cooking can cause a quick build-up of grease, and these systems pass through accommodation areas on their way to the roof. Make sure these systems are enclosed as well as regularly cleaned and maintained.
Gaps and holes
If a fire occurs within a commercial premise, the smoke created will pass through any available space, and this could prevent people above from being able to use the staircase to escape. Look out for damaged walls with holes or large cracks and damaged or poorly fitted fire resisting doors between the commercial premises and the accommodation.
Pipework and wiring from services like gas and electric often passes through the building. These services should be tested and maintained, and checks should be made to ensure that the fire separation around these areas is completely sealed to prevent fire spread.
If access to the accommodation above is through the business below, suitable escape measures should be in place. Any escape stairwells should be kept clear of materials that could be flammable or present a trip obstacle. The fire resisting door between the business and the accommodation should be rated to offer 60 minutes’ protection
Maintenance and testing
Any fire safety measures within the commercial premises should be sufficiently maintained and tested by a competent person. These include fire alarm systems, firefighting equipment, emergency lighting, ventilation systems, fire resisting doors and fire escape routes.
Designated smoking areas
Consider where you allow staff to smoke. It should be in an area clear of the building where materials like cladding and canopies won’t come into contact with cigarettes. Provide metal waste bins for cigarette disposal.
If you have waste from your business, make sure it is secure and not likely to be set alight. Waste should be stored at least six metres away from a commercial premises.
The Fire Safety Leaflet – commercial kitchen below sleeping accommodation is designed to alert owners and responsible persons of the importance and benefits of protecting the business and all the people within it from the danger of a fire.