In February this year a London hotel and its sole Director were ordered to pay more than £260,000 after being found guilty of multiple breaches of the Fire Safety Order in what is believed to be the first trial by jury of a case under the 2005 legislation.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to a total of 12 offences which were raised when fire safety inspectors visited the hotel after a fire.
After starting in a first floor guest bedroom the fire had spread quickly, up a staircase to the floor above and along a corridor. Luckily all residents escaped.
The fire inspectors found that the Director of the hotel was unable to produce a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and staff had not been given fire safety training. The inspectors also discovered defective fire doors, blocked escape routes and a lack of smoke alarms in some bedrooms.
After the trial the jury convicted the company of failing to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, provide fire safety training, keep emergency routes clear, provide adequate fire detectors and on two counts of failing to maintain premises and equipment. The Director was found guilty of “consent or connivance in the commission” of the same set of offences.
The Director was fined £180,000 and the hotel £30,000. The defendants were also ordered to pay £50,000 in prosecution costs and £2,000 in compensation to one of the hotel guests who had escaped through a second floor window.