Last week saw a landmark £210,000 fine for a hotel owner who failed to comply with fire regulations which make fire risk assessments the responsibility of the business owner. The fine was the first of its size for a hotel since the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Chumleigh Lodge hotel in Finchley, London, and its sole director, Michael Wilson, had denied 12 offences under the order but were both found guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court.
The offences date back to 18 May 2008, when a fire broke out at the hotel. The blaze had spread quickly from a first-floor guest bedroom, up a staircase to the floor above and along a corridor. Three people escaped from the fire, two by using the stairs and a third by climbing out of a second-floor window.
Following the fire, London Fire Brigade fire safety inspectors visited the hotel and raised a number of serious fire safety concerns, including defective fire doors, blocked escape routes and no smoke alarms in some of the hotel's bedrooms.
Chumleigh Lodge, as the corporate defendant, was fined £30,000 and individual defendant Wilson was fined £210,000. Together they were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £50,000 and compensation of £2,000 to the guest who had to escape the fire through the second-floor window.
Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority Brian Coleman said: "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."
fire safety: make sure you comply
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.
1. Carry out a fire risk assessment
â- Where could a fire start?
â- Who would it affect?
â- How quickly could it spread?
â- How will people know about it?
â- How will people get out safely?
2. Have an emergency plan
â- Know how to raise the alarm
â- Know where you want people to go
â- Know who will be in charge
â- Make sure people know what to do
3. Perform fire safety checks
â- Check fire escape routes
â- Keep exit routes clear
â- Don't padlock or lock fire doors
4. Provide basic fire safety training
â- How to raise the alarm
â- What to do in the event of a fire
â- When to use fire extinguishers
â- What are smoke and heat detectors?
5. Consider people with disabilities
â- How will they get out?
â- Have you a safe refuge area?
â- Can you communicate with them?
â- Could they have a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP)?
â- Can they hear the alarm?
6. Check fire safety signage
â- Is it correct?
â- Can people follow the correct route?
â- Is it clear or unobstructed?
â- Do you need emergency lighting?
7. Regularly check the fire protection equipment you have
â- Check fire extinguishers
â- Test the alarm frequently
â- Check emergency lighting
â- Test smoke and heat detectors
â- Check any equipment provided for people with disabilities
8. Keep records
â- Complete check lists
â- Keep maintenance records
â- Record training sessions
â- Keep fire alarm training records
â- Develop a fire safety log book
Produced for Caterer and Hotelkeeper by Pat Perry, executive chairman, health and safety consultants, Perry Scott Nash
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