Hotel prosecuted following serious fire safety breaches

The owner and general manager of The Park Hotel in Leicester has this week been handed down fines and costs totalling £40,000 for ten serious breaches of fire safety regulations.

On 13 August 2009 fire crews attended The Park Hotel in response to a fire that had broken out on the first floor of the premises. As firefighters attempted to tackle the blaze, they encountered smoke logging throughout the premises and occupants of the hotel still evacuating the premises.

After the incident it became clear that no one employed by the hotel had initiated a formal evacuation procedure upon the alarm actuating, but rather residents had evacuated themselves informally.

Fire crews were informed by an employee at the hotel that the fire alarm could not be heard in the basement area of the premises where the on-site staff lived, so there had been a delay of some 20 minutes between the evacuation of some of the residents at the hotel and the on-site manager and his own family being alerted to the fire.

It was established that on the evening of the fire, the hotel reception had closed at midnight. This was in accordance with the instruction provided by the general manager and the owner as they had decided that it was not necessary to have a night porter on duty between the hours of midnight and seven a.m. This decision had been taken in order to cut costs.

After the fire, fire safety inspectors were called to carry out a detailed inspection of the premises and found that:

the on-site staff had been unaware of the fire until one of the residents had gone down to the basement to warn them and by the time they evacuated the building, the fire service was already in attendance. No sounder for the fire alarm appeared to be installed in the basement.

most of the fire doors leading on to the stairs and corridor to the first floor were wedged open.

none of the fire doors throughout the building were fitted with un-tumescent strips or cold smoke seals.

a number of the wooden steps to the rear fire escape were either loose or partially rotten in places. The surface of the steps was also slippery.

there was no evidence of weekly testing of the fire alarm or monthly tests on the emergency lighting.

there was no certification available for the fire extinguishers.
on inspecting inside one of the flats a detector had been inappropriately installed.

the fire risk assessment was inadequate.

As a result of the audit it was discovered that the hotel was in breach of a number of the provisions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and criminal proceedings were started against the owner, Park Hotel Limited, and general manager, Ashwin Ratan.

At Court the company, via one of its directors, Ram Kalra, and Mr Ratan both pleaded guilty to ten offences.

The company was fined £29,715 with £8,000 costs and Mr Ratan £2,985 with £380 costs.

Rick Taylor, Head of Community Risk Management at the Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“The level of fines and costs orders imposed on the owner and general manager of Park Hotel emphasises how seriously concerned the Magistrates were in regard to the significant failures found at the hotel by Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service following the fire in 2009.”

Linda Jermin, representing the company, said:

“Once an enforcement notice had been made the company complied with all the matters and took the responsibilities it should have had prior to the fire.”