Fire Safety Prosecution

12 Feb Fire safety failings at hotel in High Petergate land company with £120,000 fine

A COMPANY has been fined £120,000 for running a “fire trap” hotel in York city centre and putting at least 1,300 people’s lives at risk.

The management at the Lamb and Lion Inn in High Petergate were warned atleast three times in a year that their fire alarm system was not in working order, Karen Galloway for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, told York magistrates.

But the Fire Alarm system was not replaced until after fire officers forced the hotel to close while its fire safety measure were brought up to standard.

She said a guest who stayed at the hotel between December 2016 and March 2017 described it as a “fire trap” and that in the same period, 1,300 people had stayed in the hotel.

“The hotel has operated for many months and continued to take bookings despite many warnings that the (alarm) system would not work properly in the event of a fire,” she said.

Ms Galloway said when fire officers inspected the hotel on March 9, 2017, they found the fire alarm out of action and various other fire safety issues. These included faulty fire doors, a smoke hazard that could block the one exit from the upper floors and items such as linen stored without any fire protection.

Ben Williams, for Sloping Tactics Ltd of Halifax, which owned the hotel at the time, said it had been “patching” up the fire alarm problems from January 2016 and hadn’t realised the fire alarm had been “condemned” until two days before the fire officers’ visit.

It had started the process of replacing the fire alarm system in December 2016.

Mr. Williams denied any knowledge that the company had delayed replacing the fire alarm for financial reasons or that they had blatantly ignored fire safety.

The company pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching fire safety regulations between December 2016 and March 2017 and was fined £120,000 with £2,863.39 costs and a £170 statutory surcharge.

Fire station manager David Watson said after the court case: “North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will in most cases give responsible persons chance to comply with the legislation before taking legal proceedings.

“However, where cases are found where there is risk to life of death or serious injury in the event of fire, prosecution will be considered and where appropriate taken.

“In this case the responsible person co-operated with the investigation and acted quickly to put things right, however the seriousness of the failings meant that a prosecution was appropriate.

“Across the North Yorkshire and the City of York North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service find that many businesses and sole traders are proactive in managing their fire safety well.

“Sadly there are still too many occasions, like this case, where businesses are unaware or ignoring what they should be doing.

In a statement, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said of the prohibition notice that temporarily closed the hotel in March 2017:    “A fire safety officer deemed that the fire alarm system was inadequate as in the event of a fire there was a risk that people would not be given adequate warning, and that even with a night watchman it could not be guaranteed that all residents would be safe.”

“There were also a number of other fire safety matters which caused concern, including fire doors which were held open and the poor storage of combustible materials in a boiler cupboard and the basement area.

“The fire risk assessment had not identified all the problems despite the company being made aware of some of the matters which required attention.

“Due to the poor fire safety conditions found, a prohibition notice and an enforcement notice were served. On this occasion the prohibition notice informed the responsible person that they must not allow anyone to sleep in the building. The rear ground floor area was also restricted from being used.”

 

Emma Trafford
[email protected]
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