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Business fires in Norfolk caused by portable heaters as venues utilise outside space

28 April 2021

Business owners across Norfolk are being asked to check their fire risk assessments following incidents since pubs and restaurants reopened for outdoor dining in the county.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has attended two fires involving the use of outdoor heaters at licensed premises this month. There have also been several incidents across the county of fires in residential gardens as people use barbecues, patio heaters and fire pits to allow outdoor socialising in cool weather. Accidents in the last week have led to fires spreading to sheds, fences and homes.

One of the incidents, at a hotel in in Hunstanton, saw the gas canister from a patio heater ignite while placed under a gazebo.

In another incident, a patio heater caught fire in a marquee outside a pub near Aylsham.

Thankfully, nobody was injured in either incident.

“It is great news for Norfolk and for businesses that life is starting to return to normal. As pubs and restaurants are currently operating outside, many will have changed the layouts of their outdoor space or may be using temporary structures with heaters of some kind. In recent days we have attended two incidents where outdoor heaters have caused fires. Thankfully the damage was minimal and there were no injuries,” said Group Manager Jon Wilby, of NFRS.

With the bank holiday weekend approaching, Norfolk Police are encouraging people to enjoy themselves safely and responsibly.

Superintendent Nathan Clark at Norfolk Constabulary said: “Our journey out of lockdown has been overwhelmingly positive, with people enjoying their new freedoms sensibly, as the last two weekends has shown. I’m sure venues will be even busier this bank holiday weekend but it’s important we continue to play it safe, follow social distancing guidelines and stick to the rules.”

Business owners should:

  • Ensure they have reviewed their fire risk assessments if you have changed layout or use, including the temporary structure risk assessment for outdoor events via the National Fire Chiefs Council website
  • Make sure any outdoor heaters are correctly installed and that you have followed the manufacturers guidance for use
  • Check servicing and maintenance on all heating appliances
  • Position heaters away from flammable objects
  • Ensure there is adequate signage and lighting for escape routes
  • Make sure any temporary structures are fire retardant
  • Use and store gas bottles in line with the appropriate code of practice

Business owners needing fire safety advice can contact the community fire protection team, who will gladly offer support during a time of great challenge to Norfolk’s businesses.

Please get in touch via 0300 123 1669. Business safety advice can also be found at www.norfolk.gov.uk/fire

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