Hotel investigated after fire boke out in 2008… A hotel owner has been ordered to pay a fine and costs totalling £262,000 after failing to comply with fire safety regulations.
The manager, also the sole director, had denied 12 charges of neglecting fire safety laws under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 but was found guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court on 6 February 2012. It is also regarded as landmark ruling as it is believed to be the first jury trial under the Regulatory Reform Order. (Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, employers or those responsible for a premises are required by law to carry out a fire risk assessment and act on its findings).
Suspicions about the fire safety standards in the hotel in Finchley, London first arose after a fire broke out at the hotel on 18 May 2008. The fire spread quickly from a first-floor bedroom all the way up a staircase and down the corridor of the floor above. Three people were forced to escape; two used an alternative set of stairs to flee the fire while the other person climbed out their second-floor window to get away from the flames.
After the fire the London Fire Brigade sent inspectors to investigate and they raised a number of significant fire safety concerns and highlighted issues where the hotel was in breach of fire safety regulations. Their observations of failings in fire safety protocol at the hotel included faulty fire doors, a lack of smoke alarms in some of the guest-rooms and inaccessible escape routes. It was also discovered that the staff had not been trained to an appropriate standard in fire safety awareness and no evidence of any suitable fire risk assessment was produced.
The hotel, as corporate defendant was fined £30,000 while the manager himself was fined £210,000. He was also liable for prosecution costs of £50,000 and finally had to pay £2,000 in compensation to the hotel guest who escaped the fire in May 2008 from the second-floor window.
Brian Coleman, Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority commented on the verdict:
“Business owners have a clear responsibility under fire safety law to ensure that both the public and their employees are as safe as possible from the risk of fire. This verdict sends out a clear message that if these responsibilities are ignored, we will not hesitate in prosecuting and people will face serious penalties.”