Advice from Dorset and Witshire Fire Service

Fire safety and the civil marriages and civil partnerships (section 26(1)(bb) of the Marriage Act 1949 and section 6(3a)(a) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004)


This guidance note is for the benefit of persons applying for their premises to be approved under the above Acts. It provides guidance on how to complete the application with regard to Public Safety and how to produce the plan. The information contained within this note is for guidance only. It is not a full and authoritative statement of the law and does not constitute legal advice. The note does not replace, extend, amend or alter in any way the statutory provisions of the Acts, or any subordinate legislation made under it or statutory guidance issued in relation to it.

Public safety

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service expect to see commitment by the applicant to provide and maintain adequate fire safety measures, according to the:

  • risk of the premises
  • activity taking place

Applicants/responsible persons may wish to refer to the GOV.UK fire safety law and guidance documents for business.

Provision of plans

Applications must be accompanied by a plan of the premises to which the application relates. The plan(s) must:

  • be drawn to scale 1:100
  • show the location of the extent of the boundary of the building, if relevant, and any external and internal walls which comprise the premises or in which the premises is comprise
  • show the location of any exits from the premises
  • show the location of any escape routes from the premises, and door opening direction
  • show the locations in the premises where the licensable activity is to take place and, if more than one licensable activity is to take place, where each licensable activity is to take place
  • show fixed structures which are impediments to movement
  • show the location, and height, of any stage or raised area
  • show the location and type of the fire safety measures (fire alarm and detection, escape lighting, fire doors, signs, fire fighting equipment)
  • show the location of any kitchens on the premises. These details are important in making it clear which premises or parts of premises have been licensed if the application is granted.

Occupancy capacity

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service will expect the occupancy to be considered and addressed by the applicant and a number given for each area, within their application, based on the following criteria:

  • number of exits
  • overall floor area
  • means of escape
  • activity taking place

If the maximum use is to be made of the premises, the available exits should be of sufficient number and width to permit safe evacuation of the proposed capacity. Regard should also be given to the needs of disabled persons. Where the maximum occupancy is likely to be reached and particularly where a special event or promotion is planned, the applicant will be expected to detail the additional arrangements that will be put in place to ensure that the maximum occupancy will not be exceeded. The requirement to provide monitoring arrangements should be determined by risk assessment. Where this is necessary applicants will be expected to demonstrate that suitable and sufficient measures have been identified and will be implemented and maintained to ensure public safety, relevant to the individual style and character.

Fire safety checks

The following information does not have to be included with the application. It is provided to assist applicants with fire safety matters in their premises. The adequacy of existing fire safety measures in a premises should be determined by the carrying out of a fire risk assessment.

The following checks (although not exhaustive) have been compiled to enable applicants to address and manage the fire safety measures in their premises. The responsible person carrying out the checks should ask themselves:

  • has a fire risk assessment been carried out?
  • has the maximum occupancy of the premises been determined?
  • are all escape routes properly maintained and free from obstructions, goods or any materials that constitute a hazard to the route?
  • are all stairways, corridors and lobbies kept free from combustible storage and furniture etc. at all times?
  • are all stairways, ramps and steps comprising part of the means of escape maintained in a safe condition with even and non-slippery surfaces, with all floor coverings secured in position?
  • are all self closing doors (other than those held open automatically) maintained self closing at all times and not provided with any means of keeping them in the open position?
  • are there any fire doors held open with automatic devices?
  • do they close automatically upon operation of the fire alarm?
  • are all exit doors, through which a person may have to pass, unlocked and free to open for persons leaving the premises?
  • are arrangements in place so that persons with mobility difficulties are able to leave the premises safely in the event of fire?
  • are all floors, walls and ceilings kept in a satisfactory state of repair?
  • are all surface finishing’s on walls, partitions and ceilings of such a standard to minimise fire spread?
  • is all firefighting equipment readily available for use?
  • is all firefighting equipment tested and maintained in efficient working order according to the appropriate standard?
  • is the fire alarm readily available for use? The means for giving warning in case of fire, i.e. the provision or otherwise of a fire alarm system should be determined by a fire risk assessment
  • is the fire alarm tested and maintained in efficient working order according to the appropriate standard?
  • is the escape lighting readily available for use?
  • is the escape lighting tested and maintained in efficient working order according to the appropriate standard?
  • are all persons employed in the premises given instruction and training in the action to be taken in case of fire?
  • are records of all electrical tests and fire drill training maintained?
  • are all notices, signs and fire exit signs legible and unobstructed?
  • is the electrical installation in a good state of repair?
  • if special effects such as lasers, pyrotechnics, smoke machines, foam machines etc, are to be used, what additional fire safety measures have been provided?

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