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Fire, fire, fire!


That’s the last thing you ever want to hear someone shouting! At The 25, you’d never hear us shouting fire as our fire alarm is so loud you’ll be deafened! Our fire alarm is designed to wake even the most deep of sleepers and there’s a sounder in every bedroom so there’s no way you would sleep though it.

Last week we had an unannounced visit by the local fire brigade. It was our first in Torquay, but we had several at the last hotel we ran in North Wales. Due to our previous experience, everything was exactly as they would hope to see and they left happy.

Such things may not seem very interesting and I’m sure most people don’t think about fire safety when looking for a place to stay. The likes of Airbnb can often offer what looks like a bargain when searching for accommodation, but it may not be as good a bargain if you’re not safe whilst staying there.

Our fire safety starts with an eleven page Fire Risk Assessment which we produce on an annual basis. This details all aspects of fire safety. It looks at sources of heat, flammable materials and how they’re stored, fire exits, windows, smoke alarms, building plans to help the fire brigade and a whole host of other fire relate matters. We also have an alarm which automatically closes doors in public areas when it goes off and the alarm is monitored so even if we’re out, the fire brigade would be called out.

Whilst having a fire risk assessment, records of weekly alarm tests, keeping fire exits clear etc are all a legal requirement for professional accommodation businesses such as ours, this is not applicable at all to private renters such as many of those found on websites like Airbnb.

This is an area where the government needs to catch up and bring in legislation. In my view, anyone wanting to rent out accommodation must meet certain requirements.

At present, they are not required legally to even have a working fire alarm let alone anything else! Hence why there have already been some deaths from fires and unfortunately, I feel the situation will have to get worse before the government is forced into doing anything about it.

It’s important to have a think about such things before booking accommodation blindly. Unfortunately, the plague of non-licensed accommodation is unfair competition in all respects – they have no Environmental Health inspection, and probably no training either. They don’t require a music licence, a commercial TV license, an alcohol license or insurance of any kind let alone public liability insurance. They pay no tax and no VAT. All these things help them undercut true professionals.

Fire Safety is just one of the many aspects that a hotelier needs to deal with on a daily basis, making sure their guests are safe. Although the Fire Brigade may drop in once in a blue moon to check up, the buck stops with us and it’s our legal responsibility to make sure everything is in order. Next time you book a place to stay in for a few days, make sure they are legally compliant in all respects for your own safety. Cheap is not always the best option.


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