Your local licensing authority is responsible for issuing licences. This page gives more information about our role in the licensing process and what you need to do from a fire safety perspective.
Applying for a licence
As a licence holder, you will have a responsibility to ensure the safety of people using your premises.
When you apply for your license, you need to consider public safety, including:
- fire safety
- setting appropriate limits on the maximum capacity of the premises
- ensuring appropriate access for emergency services
- having good communication with local authorities and emergency services
What you need to share with us
When you apply to your local licensing authority for a license, you will also need to send a copy of your application, including the operating schedule, to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.
You need to send a copy to us on the same day the application is sent to the relevant licensing authority.
You must also provide a plan of the premises with your application. We recommend they are drawn in the standard scale 1:100, where 1 millimetre represents 100 millimetres (unless a different scale is agreed by the Licensing Authority).
There is no requirement to have plans professionally drawn. They need to be accurate and include:
- dimensions of the building boundary and any external walls and openings
- access and exit points from the premises including escape routes
- areas used for each licensable activity
- fixed structures including furniture and fittings, which may impact the ability of people to use the escape routes
- location of any raised stage, floor areas, steps, stairs, elevators or lifts
- location of any kitchens or areas of hot food preparation
- location and type of fire safety measures including:
- fire-fighting equipment
- emergency escape lighting
- fire detection and warning system
- a key of symbols to illustrate the above.
Where to send a copy of your application
You can email your documents to email@example.com.
If you want to post them to us, you should send them to your nearest fire protection office. These are located at:
- Barnstaple Fire Station
- Bideford Fire Station
- Exeter - Middlemoor Fire Station
- Taunton Fire Station
- Torquay Fire Station
- Plymouth - Service training centre
- Yeovil Fire Station
Your local licensing authority should be able to help you with any queries or give advice on how to complete the application. There's also information on gov.uk under premises licence guidance.
What we do
As a public body, the Service can raise concerns to the licensing authority about applications on matters related to public safety.
As part of the licencing consultation, we will assess the:
- nature of the application
- type of premises
- fire precautions detailed in the application.
To ensure public safety, before determining the appropriate outcome, we may ask:
- for further information
- you to provide more fire safety advice and guidance
- to carry out an inspection of the premises.
If we have concerns regarding the application over public safety, we will work with you to resolve the issues. If we are of the opinion these matters need to be addressed before the licence is issued, we will notify the relevant Licensing Authority.
Where necessary, we will consult with our partner agencies and share information that can contribute to the overall safety of the people who visit licensed premises.
Risk assessments and safety measures for licensed premises
The Fire Safety Order applies to almost all premises, buildings, places and structures, where people work, visit or stay. This includes:
- pubs, cafes, restaurants, and clubs
- village halls and community centres
- cinemas, exhibition and conference centres
- marquees, festivals, county fairs and village fetes, theatres, cinemas, and open-air concerts.
Under the Fire Safety Order, the responsible person must conduct a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment of the premises. A fire risk assessment helps you to identify the potential risks on your premises. It will also help you identify the measures you need to put in place to keep people safe.
Fire risk assessments are a legal requirement. If you don't have a fire risk assessment you could be breaking the law.
The establishment of an acceptable occupancy capacity for licenced premises (or events) is considered to be an essential factor in achieving the licencing objective of ‘Public Safety’.
We will expect it to be calculated and incorporated into the fire risk assessment and operating schedule.
If you fail to do this then we may take enforcement action against you. Your fire risk assessment will also be considered not sufficient.
An occupancy capacity must be calculated based on the following criteria:
- number of exits
- overall floor area
- means of escape
- activity taking place.
How to calculate occupancy
We have guidance on a method of capacity calculation for simple premises.
Information on occupancy capacities for more complex premises can be found in the following Government guides.
- Fire safety risk assessment: small and medium places of assembly
- Fire safety risk assessment: large places of assembly
- Fire safety risk assessment: open-air events and venues
- Fire safety risk assessment: theatres, cinemas, and similar premises
- Fire safety: Approved Document B Volume 2 Buildings than dwellings
In some premises, there will be a requirement to monitor and control the number of people present. The arrangements should be determined by your risk assessment and recorded in the operating schedule.
You will be expected to demonstrate that suitable and sufficient measures have been identified, and implemented and will be maintained to ensure public safety.
The use of furnishings and other materials which are easily ignited or have rapid spread of flame characteristics should be avoided.
Points to remember when furnishing and decorating a public venue
- Use materials that are either non-combustible or inherently flame retardant.
- Any fabrics used in escape routes should be non-combustible.
- Drapes and curtains should not be put across escape routes or fire exits.
- Materials treated with flame-retardant treatments may have a limited ‘wash life’ before the effectiveness of the flame-retardant is reduced. To maintain the protection you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Scenery and items used for stage presentations are often made of combustible materials. Take particular care with them and only use materials that are known to be non-combustible when they are used on an open stage.
- Upholstered seating should be resistant to ignition
- Ensure electrical lighting does not become a potential source of ignition.
Your fire risk assessment should also consider any additional risk generated by seasonal products such as fireworks and Christmas or party decorations. The covering of walls and ceilings must not increase the risk of fire or fire spread.
The following links will give you more information on licensing and contacting your local licensing authority about how to apply for a licence.
- Licensing Act 2003
- Revised Government guidance issued under section 182 of Licensing Act 2003
- Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Fire Safety Order)
Licensees may need planning permission and building regulations approval for any alterations. We recommend that you consult the local licensing authority and building control body at the earliest opportunity.