Winter breaks in the UK mean fire safety is as critical as ever

From the rugged coastline of Cornwall to the snowy landscape of the Highlands, the UK is a wonderful place to take a winter break. Especially when you can spend a cosy evening in front of an open fire or wood burner. It’s no wonder that so called ‘staycations’ are still very much the order of the day for many UK holidaymakers.

To meet the demand, the number of UK holiday homes has risen by 40%. But the rapid increase has brought with it several concerns. Top amongst them is fire safety. The Fire Door Inspection Scheme says that last year a staggering 75% of UK fire doors failed inspection, the majority of which are in rented buildings. Given the rapid increase in holiday cottage lets, it’s likely many of these rentals don’t meet fire safety standards.

At least one holiday let landlord has been fined for breach of fire safety regulations. The owner of a self-catering premises in Perranporth, Cornwall, was ordered to pay nearly £4,000 in fines and costs after his premises failed to meet fire safety regulations. But a fine is not the worst that could happen – summing up the case the magistrate said, “Potentially people could have died. Luckily this did not occur.”

Installers and contractors will be one of the many groups confronted with the problem of bringing this new wave of holiday homes in line with fire safety regulation. In particular, electricians will need to ensure these new landlords’ electrics are compliant and up to scratch, which may include the removal of dangerous appliances or the installation of fire safety equipment like interlinked smoke alarm systems.

Those equipped with the knowledge of holiday home fire regulations will be better prepared for bringing new rentals in line with the regulations, and you can help new landlords and first-time holiday rental owners prepare and avoid situations like the one above. Here is an overview of the rental and holiday home fire regulations you may need to keep in mind when working with your next landlord:

Fire safety measures and lighting

Multi-purpose fire extinguishers and fire blankets must be included in all holiday homes.  Emergency lighting and fire exit signage must be installed to help people find the exit in case of emergency.

Fire detection and carbon monoxide detectors

At least one smoke alarm must be installed on every floor of a rented property. A carbon monoxide alarm must also be fitted to any room that contains a solid fuel burning appliance such as a coal fire or wood burning stove. Landlords must test alarms at the start of every tenancy.

As of February, all homes in Scotland must also have an interlinked fire alarm system. It’s the first of the UK nations to pass this legislation in the wake of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire, and it means that if one alarm goes off, all alarms go off.

Electrical fire and gas safety

Landlords must also ensure that all electrical appliances, circuits, and fixed installations within the property are safe. Although not a legal requirement, landlords are also advised to obtain an Electrical Safety Certificate that provides proof that a qualified electrical engineer has inspected the premises. Insurance may be invalid if this inspection has not been carried out.

With regards to gas, properties that use gas supply for central heating or cooking appliances must hold a valid Gas Safety Certificate. These appliances must be regularly maintained and serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Fire doors

Fire doors are worth singling out for attention as they are often neglected, and many UK fire doors fail inspection. They play a vital role in helping to stop the spread of heat and smoke, protecting lives as well as buildings, and are an essential requirement for flats, or houses with loft conversions. They are also recommended for the kitchens of all rented properties

What more can you do?

The market of new landlords will present an opportunity for those who are familiar with products and regulations beyond electrical fire safety. As mentioned above, three-quarters of UK fire doors fail safety inspections. So, while fire doors may not directly fall in your typical remit, many new landlords and holiday rental owners will seek advice when brought in to help with fire regulations.

FireKit by Codelocks could be your foot in the door. Codelocks’ FireKit fits to the lock of a door and adds additional protection by ensuring that smoke and fire cannot travel through lock installation gaps.

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