Fire safety burden on B&Bs to be relaxed
New fire safety guidance is set to reduce the financial and administrative burden on Scotland's estimated 7,000 bed and breakfast and self catering businesses.
The sector had raised concerns with the Scottish Government that previous fire safety requirements were complex and prohibitively expensive. The new guidance developed to directly address these concerns will maintain fire safety levels while reducing the average investment in safety equipment by over 90 per cent.
The new guidance will also ensure that all fire safety requirements are now applied consistently as well as proportionately to the size of property.
On the day the new guidance was published for public consultation Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing urged the tourism sector to support the proposals.
Fergus Ewing said:
"The Scottish Government has listened at length to business owners' concerns and proposed a solution that reduces red tape and reduces cost while ensuring their paying guests are safe from the ever-present risk of fire."
Andy Willox, Scottish Policy Convener of the Federation of Small Businesses said:
"We welcome the Scottish Government's move to introduce new fire safety guidance which we hope will be more proportionate to risk and should allow businesses to significantly reduce the investment needed to meet their safety obligations. It's important that businesses affected by this guidance have their say, so we would urge them to take part in the consultation."
Jimmy Campbell, Chair of Chief Fire Officers' Association (Scotland) said:
"While our business is to ensure the public are safe from fire, we also recognise the need to find a cost-effective solution for the sector. We can achieve this by ensuring that the safety measures are proportionate to the risk. This new guidance achieves that and I would urge support for its introduction, as the human cost of a fire-related tragedy in any of Scotland's bed and breakfast establishments will be far higher for everyone concerned."
Under current guidance proprietors have responsibility for conducting their own risk assessment. Fire services then have the powers to enforce the introduction of additional measures should they deem this necessary.
The new proposals would require all bed and breakfast owners to apply an agreed level of fire safety cover, consistent with the size and risk profile of the property. On average, a bed and breakfast business would be required to install around £1,300 of safety equipment. With a minimum lifespan of ten years, this equates to £130 per year.
Independent analysis by cost management specialists Turner and Townsend compared the average cost of compliance under both the previous and new guidance:
- new guidance - £1,090
- previous guidance - £1,5376
- difference - £14,286
The public consultation ends February 4, 2010.
The previous guidance was introduced in 2007. This currently requires all proprietors to undertake their own risk-assessment and apply safety measures in accordance with this assessment.
Fire and rescue services can then review these measures and enforce further measures if deemed necessary.