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Fire Safety Evacuation at the 2023 UK Snooker Championship: A Close Call at York Barbican


The UK Snooker Championship 2023, held at the York Barbican, faced an unforeseen interruption on Sunday, 26 November, when a small fire broke out in the building’s foyer. This incident, which occurred just as the evening session was about to resume, led to a fire safety evacuation of both players and spectators, highlighting crucial questions about safety protocols and preparedness at major events.

The Incident

The fire alarm’s sudden blare caught everyone off guard. As smoke began to fill the foyer, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) was immediately alerted. Teams from York, Acomb, and Huntington quickly converged on the scene. The source of the smoke was traced to an overheated ventilation fan. Firefighters employed a thermal image camera to ensure the fire was completely contained, while spectators gathered outside, awaiting updates. 

Response and Resilience

The staff at York Barbican acted swiftly, isolating power to the affected fan. This prompt action, combined with the efficient fire safety evacuation and response of NYFRS, meant that the situation was brought under control without any injuries or significant damage. The entire episode delayed the evening session by an hour, with players finding temporary refuge in a nearby pub. 

Media Coverage and Communication

Eurosport, broadcasting the championship, had to temporarily halt its coverage. Host Radzi Chinyanganya, joined by snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan, informed viewers of the fire safety evacuation, assuring them that updates would be provided as soon as possible. This transparent communication was vital in maintaining calm among fans and viewers. 

Reflections on Safety and Preparedness

This incident at the York Barbican raises an important question: Do people check what evacuation devices and safety measures are in place before attending events? While this situation was resolved without harm, it underscores the need for heightened awareness and preparedness among event organisers and attendees alike. 

Ensuring Safety for All: Mindful Checking of Evacuation Protocols at Venues, with a Focus on Accessibility

The UK Snooker Championship 2023 at the York Barbican serves as a reminder of the unpredictability of such emergencies and the importance of having robust safety protocols. The seamless coordination between the event staff, emergency services, and broadcasters ensured that the situation was managed effectively, with minimal disruption.

It also shows how crucial it is for attendees, especially those with disabilities or special needs, to be proactive about understanding evacuation protocols at venues. Here’s a guide on how to approach this vital aspect of event attendance:

  1. Pre-Event Planning for Accessibility Needs:

Research Accessibility Information: Before attending an event, check the venue’s website or contact them directly to understand their provisions for attendees with disabilities. This includes information on accessible exits, seating, and special evacuation procedures.

Inform the Venue: If you or someone in your party has a disability, inform the venue in advance. They can provide specific information and assistance regarding fire safety evacuation in case of an emergency.

  1. Identifying and Using Accessible Features:

Locate Accessible Exits: Upon arrival, identify exits that are accessible for people with disabilities. These exits should be free of obstructions and may have ramps or other features to facilitate easy evacuation.

Understand Emergency Evacuation Devices: Familiarise yourself with any emergency evacuation devices provided by the venue, such as evacuation chairs. Know where these devices are stored and how they can be accessed quickly in the event of a fire safety evacuation.

  1. Engaging with Staff and Security:

Communicate with Venue Staff: Discuss your specific needs with venue staff. They can offer guidance on the best evacuation routes and procedures tailored to your requirements. Identify Meeting Points: Establish a designated meeting point outside the venue where you and your party can regroup in case of separation during a fire safety evacuation.  

  1. Awareness During the Event:

Be Alert to Announcements: Pay close attention to any announcements or instructions from the venue, especially those related to fire safety evacuation procedures. Regular Check-ins: If you are attending with a person with a disability, check in regularly to ensure they are comfortable and aware of the nearest accessible exit.

  1. Post-Event Feedback:

Provide Feedback to the Venue: After the event, consider providing feedback to the venue about their accessibility and fire safety evacuation procedures. Your insights could help improve safety measures for future events.


Evaccess stands as a one-stop-shop solution, adept in addressing every facet of fire safety and emergency evacuation.

We at Evaccess don’t just offer products; we offer a promise.

Our state-of-the-art equipment ensures that buildings are properly equipped and delivers the assurance of safety, and we shoulder the responsibility of ensuring your establishment is not only equipped for fire safety evacuations but also genuinely inclusive and accessible for every individual. See how we have worked with many heritage and listed buildings here:

Our comprehensive and adaptive five-step plan is the first step and includes site assessment, equipment selection, and tailored fire safety evacuation planning, leaving no stone unturned in safeguarding every occupant.

The Evaccess 5 Step Plan includes:

  • Consultation and Site Survey: We dive deep into understanding your building’s layout and identify potential mobility barriers.
  • PEEPS and GEEPS Online Training: We empower your team with essential safety principles through our comprehensive online courses.
  • Selection of the Right Unit: Identify the unit that perfectly aligns with your building’s requirements, ensuring optimal safety and evacuation.
  • Training to Use Units: We ensure your team is fully equipped to operate these units effectively and confidently.
  • Ongoing Maintenance: Our commitment extends beyond installation, providing regular maintenance to keep your units in peak condition.

Visit here to start the easy 5-step plan for identifying mobility challenges in your building.

Safety is a journey, and with Evaccess, it’s a journey taken together.

Get In. Get Out. Together.

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