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The main causes of fire in the hospitality industry

According to government statistics, hospitality venues in England have experienced more than 6,400 fires over the last four years, including 1,986 in the 2019/2020 financial year alone. While the most recent year’s findings have yet to be published, it is highly likely that the incidents of fire breakouts will have dropped significantly due to Covid related shutdowns of hospitality businesses. However, this should not lull hospitality businesses into a false sense of security. With the industry experiencing such wide-spread and long-term closures due to the pandemic, there have been far less fire safety risks to contend with. But that’s about to change; restrictions are being lifted and hospitality venues are opening their doors once again.

Here, we discuss the most common fire risks for hospitality venues, ways you can support customers in the industry, and the importance of fire risk assessments.

What is the main cause of fire in the hospitality industry?

The hospitality industry works with some hazardous materials which put venues at risk from certain classes of fire, including flammable liquids, cooking oils and fats, and electrical equipment.

Electrical equipment

Hospitality venues rely on a number of electrical appliances to serve their customers. Whether it’s a series of lights to create atmosphere in a restaurant, or everyday appliances in a hotel room, electrical appliances which are misused or not regularly tested can present a serious risk to hospitality venues. Hospitality business owners should ensure all electrical appliances have been tested within the last 12 months to minimise the risk of a fire. Customers should also be provided with fire extinguishers suitable to the fire risks within their environment, including CO2 fire extinguishers, given that the gas is non-conductive, and powder fire extinguishers, which are only suitable for outdoor applications and where the electrical current is under 1000v.

Cooking oils and fats

One of the main causes of fire in the hospitality industry is cooking oils, given their frequent usage in environments such as restaurants. Class F fires (those resulting from cooking oils and fats) require a very specific solution to extinguish. This is because cooking oils have an explosive reaction to liquids. Foam or water fire extinguishers can actually spread the source of the fire and quickly worsen an already-dangerous situation. Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that fire extinguishers installed in Class F fire risk areas are suitable to tackle this specific class of fire. This may include the versatile and high-performing MultiCHEM fire extinguisher by market-leading brand CommanderEDGE, as well as wet chemical fire extinguishers.

Cigarettes

Given that hospitality venues often provide two designated areas for both staff and guests to smoke, fires from discarded cigarettes can be a real threat. Hospitality venues should provide highly visible and easily accessible bins or wall-mounted ash trays for smokers to safely stub out and dispose their cigarettes.

Fire risk assessment

In order to identify which risks are most applicable to a hospitality venue, the responsible person – as outlined by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – of the premises must conduct a fire risk assessment. In this process, the responsible person will highlight fire safety risks, including potential sources of ignition, and assess fire safety procedures, such as evacuation routes, before taking appropriate action to minimise the likelihood and impact of each risk. For example, if the responsible person of a hotel performed a risk assessment and identified the risk of a cooking oil fire in a kitchen, they would ensure a fire extinguisher capable of tackling Class F fires is installed in the kitchen and that staff were trained on proper use of cooking oils. The fire risk assessment would also involve a number of additional measures to ensure guests and staff are protected as much as possible. These include: a detailed physical inspection of the whole building, assessment of competency of existing fire safety equipment and appropriate positioning of fire safety signage, the identification of people at risk (children, elderly, etc) and checks that all fire exits and escape routes aren’t obstructed or cluttered.

For regular updates on fire safety law and industry insights, take a look at the government’s guidance on fire safety in hotels and other sleeping accommodations, and bookmark CheckFire’s resource centre

The content of the CheckFire blog is for general information purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure accuracy at the time of publication, under no circumstances should it be considered professional advice. Any reliance you place on the information is at your own risk. Always seek the advice of a fire professional for your particular circumstances and requirements.
  • by Amy Moseley

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