Festive Fire Safety for Best Bar None Premises

Fire safety is an all year round concern for Best Bar None Premises, fire doesn’t discriminate – it can strike at any time. However Christmas brings it’s own inherent fire safety risk which you should be aware of. This article by our seconded Scottish Fire & Rescue Service Watch Commander, Gary Wood, highlights some of the areas you should consider to keep your BBN premises, staff and customers safe this Christmas.

Consider Reviewing your FSRA – Fire Safety Risk Assessment

Your FSRA underpins all your fire safety measures within your venue.

  • Consider reviewing it at this time of year where your premises may experience a substantially higher footfall of customers. This may impact upon your current fire action plan and escape strategy so take this into account before your venue begins to get busier.
  • Ensure your venue does not exceed permitted safe occupancy levels especially if more customers are likely to resort to the premises. Exceeding these occupancy levels could have serious consequences if a full evacuation requires to take place.
  • Some venues may also have taken on seasonal staff who may not be aware of the fire safety measures within your venue. Ensure they are given basic fire safety training including a walk round of the venue to become familiar with escape routes, fire exits and fire escape strategy.
  • Ensure they are aware of what their actions should be in the event of a fire or fire alarm activation. Ensure staff are aware of how to summon the fire and rescue service and what information they should pass.
  • Some venues may project a higher volume of sales of food and drink and increase their orders from suppliers accordingly to take this into account. Ensure that any over provision of food and drink is stored appropriately in a suitable area avoiding means of escape corridors and fire exits.
  • Even ‘back of house areas’ not normally accessed by the public should be paid attention and corridors and exits kept clear. These areas may not ordinarily be frequented by members of the public but in the event of a serious fire situation they may be required to be used by customers.

Avoid overloading sockets

To get your guests and customers in the Festive spirit, many venues will be putting up Christmas decorations. Many decorations use electricity and while most are perfectly safe under normal use, overloading a power socket can pose a fire safety risk.

  • Ensure you do not plug too many decorations into one socket to avoid overheating and potentially an electrical fire occurring.
  • Also ensure the electrical decorations you purchase and use are of quality construction and that the plugs are appropriately fused.
  • Avoid the temptation to use strip adaptors if the electrical devices are of a high electrical load. Never use the older ‘cube’ electrical adaptors as these can overheat very quickly and be a danger.

Safely Position your Christmas Tree

Christmas time wouldn’t be the same without a tree! However be aware of where you position your tree within your venue if you intend displaying one.

  • Do not position combustible materials close to your Christmas tree. Likewise, do not position your Christmas tree near to any electrical appliances which could generate heat whether that may be a portable heater or an exposed electrical bulb.
  • Generally it is around your Christmas tree that you may be tempted to overload sockets due to lack of electrical sockets available so please take care to avoid this.

Fairy lights and decorations

There are certain places which are unsuitable for hanging decorations such as tinsel and fairy lights.

  • Lights should conform to British or European standards (look for a BS or CE number on the transformer) – British standard BS EN6059
  • Decorations can ignite and burn extremely easily so don’t position them near to or hang them off lights and lamps.
  • Fairy and tree lights should not be left on overnight. Switch them off when you leave the premises at the end of the day or evening. Incorporate this into your usual ‘close down’ procedures.
  • When hanging decorations and positioning any tress or larger decorations, ensure they do not obscure fire alarm break glass points or fire action notices in public areas. Also ensure that you don’t position large trees to obscure fire exits or means of escape.

Maintain your fire safety equipment testing

A crucial aspect of maintaining fire safety is to regularly test your AFD – Automatic Fire Alarm system and other associated active and passive fire safety measures.

  • Don’t be tempted to let this weekly or monthly testing slip or fall by the wayside over the weeks of the festive season – maintain your testing routine where appropriate for your AFD, Emergency Lighting and firefighting equipment.
  • A fully functioning and suitably tested fire alarm system is paramount in terms of fire safety within a premise’s which requires one to be fitted as the system is likely to cover areas where staff and customers do not frequent regularly throughout the day or evening and give early warning in the event of a fire situation.

Close down period

Prior to closing down for the evening consideration should be given to the following matters:-

  • Ensure all lights and electrical equipment which isn’t required to be on during the night are switched off.
  • To guard against wilful fire raising - Ensure that the premises are lock-fast including windows and external buildings/storage areas.
  • Ensure that any large industrial bins which could be used to climb on and gain access to roof areas are moved away from the building.
  • Industrial bins should be maintained a safe distance from the building especially if they contain combustibles.
  • If you do have a build up of combustibles in external areas, consider having them uplifted prior to holiday periods where the venue may be unoccupied. If the combustibles aren’t there, they can’t burn!

Watch how quickly a fire can take control at Christmas - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5A_S5b7GvQ

Watch Commander Wood finished by saying:-

‘Christmas can be a very busy period for venues, but we hope that some of the above guidance will help you ensure your premises are safer for your staff and your customers this festive season.

Wishing all Best Bar None venues a very merry Christmas………Stay Safe!!


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