Prior to opening Higher Wiscombe we had the Devon Fire Service come and inspect our cottages and advise on necessary equipment and prepare a Fire Plan. Whilst they were here, they wrote the fire plan for the whole site, noting where the wells, water tanks, swimming pool, pond, water, gas and oil shut off’s and electricity shut offs were. We have a thatched roof on one of the barns and their recommendation was to line under the thatch with a fireboard. This enables them to remove the thatch without pulling off the rafters. We fitted this even though it was more than required for building regulations. This report is on file at all Devon Fire Stations and in the unlikely event of a fire they know to come with back up tenders.
This is how we carried out our fire risk assessment.
- Identify fire risk hazards.
Source of fire ignition:
The main fire hazards at Higher Wiscombe probably come from bonfires, stray embers, landing on the thatch, from embers falling from the wood burners, from cooking fires and from guests smoking.
- Sources of fuel:
The main sources of fuel at Higher Wiscombe that are combustible are, logs, oil, and gas in containers.
- Identify people at risk:
- People in and around the premises:
We have our guests and our Family; there may be other visitors from time to time. Some will be small children and elderly relatives or may have mobility issues.
- Evaluate, remove or reduce and protect from risk:
- Evaluate the risk of a fire starting:
The likelihood of the logs catching fire without assistance is viewed as unlikely. The likelihood of a cooker fire depends upon the care exercised by the guests. Fire blankets and extinguishers are provided. The fire extinguishers are inspected and certificated annually. The biomass boiler room and wood store is a good distance from all the other buildings and the reserve oil is stored in a bunded tank. The Gas bottles are changed regularly and are checked and certificated annually to ensure no leaks. The gas cookers are certificated annually. The Chimneys are swept and certificated annually. The highest risk probably comes from embers falling from the wood burners. We have four wood burners, which have been fitted by qualified fitters. None of them have carpets in front of them and therefore the risk of embers spreading fire is very remote. We provide fireguards for all guests should they choose to use them.
Certificates are available for inspection of required.
- Evaluate the risk to people from a fire:
The barns have been designed to have as many exits as possible within planning constraints. Flint has three exits, plus two ground level windows. The Winery has four exits on the lower ground floor, three exits on the ground floor and exits are at the bottom of the stairs from the first floor. In addition there are windows that can be exited from in many locations. Thatched has four exits. Each of these layouts gives guests a variety of options to leave the building safely and quickly. Guests are advised that they must account for all their party in the event of a fire and to call 999 and explain that they are at Higher Wiscombe, not for example Thatched. All exits in all the holiday cottages have been fitted with thumb latch locks so that it is possible to open any of the external doors from the inside without a key.
- Remove or reduce the fire hazard:
Being new build we have minimised fire risks from the outset by following building regulations. The logs are stored away from the occupied barns as is the biomass installation, the oil tank and the reserve oil boilers
- Protect people by providing fire precautions:
We have provided fire extinguishers in each barn along with fire blankets and guests have the fire precaution and basic procedures explained to them in the Touch Stay Guide and upon arrival. All barns have smoke and Carbon Monoxide detection to current Building Regulations.
All fire equipment is checked annually in January by Dorset and Devon Fire Solutions, and we are provided with certificates to show work done. The same company also carries out the PAT testing at the same time so that all electrical appliances are PAT tested annually according to regulations.
We have had a EICR report done in December 2022 and carried out the suggested improvements and have updated certificates to show that this has been done.
The hard wired fire alarms were all replaced in March 2021 as part of routine maintenance, and the fire blankets had earlier been moved to better locations as part of our NAS advice.
The extension added to the Winery and opened in Spring 2020 has emergency exit lighting fitted as well. The alarms in all the cottages are all linked, so if one goes off in the building the other alarms go off too. The back-up batteries in the alarms are checked regularly and replaced as required. All batteries were routinely changed regardless in the summer of 2022.
To address the possibility of a fire or emergency occurring whilst there was a power cut, we have installed ten of these emergency rechargeable torches in the cottages. (Five in The Winery, two in Thatched and Flint and one in Hank’s Annexe)
These three pictures below illustrate the three stages. The torch in situ, being constantly charged, the torch automatically comes on at dusk so is easy to find, and then the torch taken out of the housing to use as a torch. These were installed from 1st January 2023.
In addition, it is noted that the vast majority of guests also all have a torch with them in their phones.
- Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
- Record any major findings and action you have taken:
Aside from the above we have not had any major findings to report as of January 2023.
- Discuss and work with other responsible people.
As detailed above we have had extensive help from Devon Fire Service, Dorset and Devon Fire Solutions and input from our insurance company surveyor.
- Prepare an emergency plan:
The emergency plan is as follows. Guests need to get all their party out and accounted for and call 999 and say you are at Higher Wiscombe. They are provided with our grid reference, postcode and What3words in the Touch Stay Guide upon arrival. All the emergency services can find Higher Wiscombe. We ask that after contacting the emergency services they contact us.
- Inform those using the house:
As above we ask our guests to notify us as soon as any emergency situation arises.
- Provide training:
If any full time staff members are taken on they will be trained, part time staff have been trained into the basic procedure, get everyone out and accounted for and dial 999 and say Higher Wiscombe. Then notify owners, take no risks.
- Review the fire risk regularly.
- Next Review due in July 2023.
- Make changes where necessary: