Pubs and restaurants urged to take action over fire risk

By Carina Perkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Insurance

Business owners and landlords are legally responsible for fire safety in the workplace
Business owners and landlords are legally responsible for fire safety in the workplace
Many small businesses, including restaurants and pubs, are ‘playing Russian roulette with fire safety’ by failing to carry out appropriate risk assessments, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted by, found that 39 per cent of pub landlords were unaware of their legal responsibility to conduct a fire risk assessment on their premises. said there was also a ‘disturbing’ number of companies who had no named responsible person in charge of fire safety on their premises.

“The fact that some pubs don't know the law is terrifying," said s Mark Hall.

"They're playing with fire, quite literally. There's a huge blind spot among business owners who don't know where their responsibilities lie."

Businesses that fail to comply with fire safety laws face fines and even prison, but Hall said businesses can protect themselves by taking responsibility for fire safety in the workplace and appointing a so-called 'responsible person' to carry out fire reviews, identify risks and put safety measures in place.

"Fire safety's not difficult for the huge majority of small businesses," said Hall, "In most cases, all it takes is a phone call and a single inspection and training visit."

SMITHS advice

The survey comes as all-day dining venue SMITHS of Spitalfields highlighted its own experience of fire in a bid to help other businesses prepare for the worst.

The restaurant, which re-opened its doors this week after being forced to close following a fire October last year, said hospitality businesses must have the correct insurance in place and manage the relationship with their insurers to ensure quick returns in the event of a fire.

“The key is to take your time in discussions with your agent and insurer,” said SMITHS operations director Colin Clarke. “You need to assess different scenarios of the cost to your business if you were unable to trade in the short term and if you were to suffer a major incident and be closed for a considerable term.”

The restaurant also highlighted the benefits of having a proper fire safety procedures and systems in place to minimise risk to staff and the business.

“The fire started in the 1st floor dining room kitchen and passed through the extract ducting into the second floor,” Clarke explained.

“Our fire suppression systems activated and the team evacuated the building in a prompt and professional manner."

For more tips and advice on protecting your business from risk, read our Ask the Experts special feature on fire safety​.

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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