The economic downturn has caused all hospitality operators to look carefully at their finances and cut costs accordingly. There is one area of an operation, though, that should never be skimped upon - that of maintaining fire safety.
Ever since the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, responsibility for fire safety has been transferred from the fire authority to the "responsible person" within a business - be it the owner or an employee. This means that a designated person (or it can be more than one person) within every hotel, restaurant and pub up and down the country has to be responsible for carrying out a fire-risk assessment, identifying the risks and putting in place the necessary fire precautions.
It may require some financial outlay. You may decide to employ a specialist consultant to help you adhere to the regulations. You may need to make improvements to your premises to ensure you have taken every step necessary to prevent a fire.
Whatever the cost, it cannot be overlooked and put off until business picks up. This is not about saving money, it is about saving lives.
If the owners of the Penhallow hotel in Newquay, Cornwall - who have now been hit with a heavy fine and court costs - had met the 2005 fire standards by ensuring fire detectors and alarms were working and carrying out an adequate risk assessment, the blaze which broke out on the night of 18 August 2007 might never have happened and three innocent guests would probably still be alive today.
Every operator must be aware of their responsibilities. Their livelihood and the lives of their guests depend upon it.