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40,000 homes across the UK (more than 100 per day) fall victim to fire. The consequences of a fire can be severe or even fatal. This is especially true if a fire alarm system is not installed.
When it comes to our own homes we’ll often be familiar with the quickest or most appropriate exit; we’ll know where the nearest fire extinguisher is or the safest way to deal with emergencies.
Now imagine if you were in a property you’re unfamiliar with. Perhaps the fire is at night and smoke has filled the halls. You’re not sure of the way out, or you’re unable to find the landing light switch.
A frightening prospect to say the least, but one that any guest could be presented with should a fire occur. As a holiday cottage owner it’s your responsibility to make sure that guests are kept safe. Whilst you’ll not be able to lead them from a burning building, you can take steps to reduce the risk. Such as that of a fire occurring and increase the chances of everyone exiting the property safely by early detection.
What are your fire safety legal obligations as a holiday homeowner?
Fire Safety Law (known as Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005) was introduced in 2006 and makes holiday homeowners responsible for taking measures to protect guests from the risks of fire and applies to all tourism businesses that accept payment for guests to stay in their property.
Under this legal obligation, if you haven’t already you will need to:
- Conduct a fire risk assessment
- Improve your fire safety measures in accordance with any issues highlighted in your assessment.
- Keep the risks and measures under review
Do you need a fire alarm system in your holiday home?
The simple answer is yes, as early detection provided by a fire alarm system is the most effective way to maximising the chances of guests being kept safe, and minimising any potential damage to your holiday home.
The exact number and location of the detectors will depend largely on the layout of your property, but they should always include staircases, corridors and bedrooms as an absolute minimum.
Smaller holiday letting properties and fire safety
If your property is small, which in these terms generally refers to a cottage that has no more than two storeys, a couple of guest bedrooms and a short travel distance to a safe place outside, having a system of connected detectors with a 10-year battery life should suffice. This is known as a Grade F LD2
Most detectors will make some sort of bleeping sound when batteries are running low, however in addition be sure to check them on a regular basis and perhaps consider making this part of your change over checklist.
Larger holiday letting properties and fire safety
If your property is larger, perhaps similar to the size of a standard family home, you should be looking at an automatic fire detection system consisting of interconnected detectors that will run off of the mains electricity, with a battery back-up should that fail. This is known as a Grade D LD2 system designed for domestic premises.
With both of these systems it is important to emphasise the interconnectivity of the detectors. This is especially relevant to ensure that the alarm is sounded and heard in all areas of your cottage, not just the one closest to the smoke.
A heat detector in the kitchen should be linked to the rest of the Grade D or Grade F system.
More detailed information on complying with the fire safety law and the installation of fire alarms in holiday letting properties can be found here:
No matter the size your property, however small maintain and test your fire alarm system. Keep a record of the last time your fire alarm was tested. Smoke detectors are reported to cut the risk of death in half should a severe fire break out – your vigilance can make a real difference.
Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For information on how specialist insurance can help protect your holiday home business, call us on 01237 429444.
Please note this article only gives an overview of fire alarm systems for holiday homeowners hence we suggest you take advice from a qualified fire safety professional before making any decisions in this area.