As soon as you have an offer accepted on a business, call and see the Environmental Health Officer that deals with the property to ask them for any advice and to request a meeting once you get possession. Then ask them if there are any problems or actions that have been taken, are being taken or being threatened. This could be a serious reason for the property being on the market. Any issues going back as far as two years can seriously affect the business if it has made the local press. If it is pending court action, your business could collapse even though it has nothing to do with you. The only possible way to get round this is with massive advertising and usually a major refit, both of which can be very expensive. Would you go and eat at a place that has just been fined for dirty kitchens, not for a very long time, even when it has changed hands?
Fire Risk Information and Legislation
In 2005 the legislation for fire safety changed. Having a fire certificate on a business premises is now no longer sufficient. All non-domestic properties (including pubs, restaurants and hotels) are required, by law, to have the following:
- A suitable & sufficient fire risk assessment for the workplace, carried out by a competent person
- Identified fire safety hazards and an action plan for managing and dealing with those hazards.
- Appropriate fire-fighting equipment including fire detectors and alarms.
- ALL staff fire awareness trained and certain staff members trained as Fire Wardens.
- Information regarding the above to be made available to all employees.
Quite often publicans will put off sorting their fire safety. It’s easy to forget, when you’re running a busy pub, until you have a visit from the fire officer. It is so important to get it sorted early on, as leaving it can result in prosecution by the fire brigade or a fine. Â In June 2008, the owner of the Brandon House Hotel was fined Â£204,000 for failing to ensure that his hotel met vital fire safety standards.
When choosing a fire safety company, it is always worth shopping around. Ask friends, colleagues or an independent association if they can recommend a company. Try to get quotes from a few companies if you can, both local and national, for ALL aspects of the legislation. It’s no good getting a great deal on your extinguishers if the training is going to cost you double!
Do your research how many extinguishers, and of which type, do you actually need? Is a massively expensive alarm system necessary? So many companies, even reputable ones, will sell you much more than the requirement on extinguishers, alarms and emergency lights and then charge you again every year to service them!
One example of this was a small grade II listed pub in Bath who were advised that they needed to fit an expensive fire alarm throughout the building, incurring huge expense. After doing some research they were advised that they in fact didn’t need a fire alarm as the property was only small, and nobody ever slept there. As long as all members of staff knew how to raise the alarm (to ring the last orders bell) then an automatic alarm was not necessary. This saved them over £4000 installation and over £150 every year for alarm servicing.
The BII recommends the Smartlog system from Safesmart. Smartlog from Safesmart is an online fire safety system that allows you to train all members of staff in both fire awareness and as fire wardens, carry out a full and complete risk assessment, and acts as an automated log book to remind you when any compliance issues arise. The Smartlog system is specifically designed to be easy and simple to use, and does not require any prior knowledge of fire legislation or advanced IT skills. As well as the Smartlog system, Safesmart aim to significantly cut your extinguisher, alarm and emergency lighting costs.
To find out how Safesmart and the Smartlog system can reduce your costs, as well as ease compliance, call on 01908 261403, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or click on their advert to go to their website.