Advice for pubs and clubs.

If you run licensed premises, there are fire safety measures that you need to take into account. Here's the lowdown... 

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If you're responsible for licensed premises (pubs clubs or bars) there are specific areas of fire safety you need to really pay attention to. 

What causes fires in licensed premises

For the three years from 2015-2017

  • 50% of fires in pubs were caused by either cooking or smoking
  • 44% of fires in restaurants were caused by cooking 

In pubs and clubs, escape planning is particularly important. Do you know how you would safely and quickly evacuate on a busy Friday night? How would you help customers with mobility issues?

On this page, we'll take a closer look at the risks and what you can do to reduce them, and provide advice about creating an emergency plan that will help you make sure everyone can get to safety if there is a fire.

Did you know?

Everyone in business needs to complete a Fire Risk Assessment and make an emergency plan.

Why fire safety matters?

  1. Taking your responsibilities seriously is the right thing to do – you are risking peoples' lives if you don't.
  2. It's the law – you can go to prison and face an unlimited fine if you don't meet your legal obligations.
  3. Many pubs and clubs don't recover after a fire – planning ahead and reducing risks makes good business sense.

Causes and risks

How to provide appropriate care – fire risks to watch out for 

The first step to improving your fire prevention strategy is identifying where things can go wrong. In 2016/17, our firefighters attended 533 fires in pubs and clubs across London, and we've noticed some common factors in the licenced premises that have experienced fires.

Common fire risks in bars, pubs and clubs

  1. Electrical faults – these often happen when portable items aren't properly tested and maintained, or when the electrical system itself isn't in good condition.
  2. Electrical equipment – we see many fires where lighting is placed too close to flammable materials.
  3. Smoking – smoking materials being disposed of carelessly, or smoking allowed in inappropriate areas.
  4. Arson – if you store stock or rubbish in a publically accessible place, this increases your risk.

Emergency planning risks

Poor escape planning is unfortunately quite common in licensed premises. Do you know how your customers will escape? What about other people in the building? As well as fire safety risks, there are some extra areas for concern, including 

  1. Staff training – you may have a valid emergency plan, but does everyone know how to put it into action? High turnover can mean that knowledge isn’t passed on.
  2. Lack of practice – do you do fire drills? Are staff really prepared? And are your staff up to the job of managing a large and potentially intoxicated crowd?
  3. Inadequate staffing in an emergency – staffing levels don't always support evacuation strategy.
  4. Difficult escape routes – licensed premises can have quirky layouts or be underground, so your emergency plan needs careful consideration.
  5. Escape routes for neighbours – it's also important to consider how people in accommodation above any licensed premises might escape.

Help and advice

Help and advice for licensed premises

Now you understand the risks and how important it is to do all you can to prevent fires in your pub or club or bar, what help is available to you? 

Firefighters tips for pubs and clubs

  • Make an emergency plan and update it regularly – add a diary reminder to check it at least once every 6 weeks.  
  • Make sure that fire safety training and fire drills to be carried out regularly.
  • Don't forget about customers with disabilities – not everyone will be able to respond to and escape from a fire in the same way. 
  • Ensure electrical items are tested and maintained.
  • Ensure the electrical system is subject to test
  • Have a smoking policy - and enforce it!
  • Install and maintain appropriate fire detection and suppression systems (sprinklers). 
  • Don't forget your neighbours – it's important to consider the risks to people who live above you.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for expert advice on fire safety topics – we're here to help you do business safely.

Useful documents

Fire safety risk assessment: 5 step checklist 

This checklist is a really helpful tool when it comes to completing your Fire Risk Assessment.

When it comes to making your Fire Risk Assessment and Emergency Plan, it's also important to treat every individual as an individual, and properly cater for their circumstances and needs. There's a useful guide to help on page 'Fire Safety Risk Assessment: Means of Escape for Disabled People.' 

Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005: a short guide to making your premises safe from fire

This booklet provides practical advice to people responsible for fire safety in small and medium businesses. 

Useful downloads

Guide to Applicants for Premises Licences and Club Premises Certificates under the Licensing Act 2003 GN71

Download PDF (511kb)

Fire Safety Guidance for Organisers of small scale events under the Licensing Act 2003: Temporary Event Notices GN73

Download PDF (144kb)

Complete or update your Fire Risk Assessment

Understand your responsibilities and find help to undertake this vital assessment.

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