Pubs unaware of new fire regulations

Related tags Small businesses New laws Public relations Fsb

Licensees claim they are in the dark about new fire safety regulations which come into force on Sunday (October 1).Business organisations have...

Licensees claim they are in the dark about new fire safety regulations which come into force on Sunday (October 1).

Business organisations have attacked the government for failing to promote the new laws, which could leave pubs which fail to comply facing fines of up to £5,000.

Under the new laws responsibility for fire safety has been shifted to owners and employers - who are now required to assess fire risks on their premises.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) condemned the government after research revealed that nearly half of bars, pubs and restaurants were unaware of the change.

Spokesman Simon Briault said: "The publicity campaign has not been good enough. Not enough small businesses know about it."

John Vinuesa, director of Beacon, the hospitality consortium responsible for the research, said many publicans felt there was insufficient information available about the changes. And most publicans who were aware had heard about them via the press or word of mouth, he added.

None of the licensees contacted by The Publican were aware that the fire safety rules were changing.

One, Yvonne Ward, licensee at the Brown Cow, near Pontefract, said: "I think it's downright disgusting. If there's new legislation coming in which is going to affect our business, then why haven't we been told all about it?"

Another licensee, Jacqui Kilroy, at the Merry Monk in Leeds, West Yorkshire, said: "The first I heard about it was through The Publican. We haven't received anything in the post about this. If it hadn't been for The Publican I wouldn't have a clue about it."

The government's Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which is responsible for publicising the new laws, said it had sent out around 1.5 million information leaflets to "as many targeted small and medium-sized businesses as possible, including licensees".

Advertisements have been running in the media, seminars have been staged around the country and information has been made available online, said the department.

However, Mr Briault believes this is not enough. "There are 4.3 million small businesses in the UK alone," he said. "If they've direct mailed 1.5 million, then what about the rest?"

The FSB has also criticised local fire services for their inconsistent provision of advice to businesses, and the fact that some departments have charged for advice.

The DCLG said there was an onus on pub owners to make themselves aware of any upcoming changes in legislation. A spokeswoman said: "Any business that recognises the significant risks posed by fire in the workplace will keep up-to-date with changes in requirements under law."

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