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16th August 2023

Hotel Owner Is Prosecuted After Multiple Fire Safety Breaches


What’s Happened?

The owner of a Grade II listed hotel based in Northumberland has recently received a two-year suspended custodial sentence after pleading guilty to multiple charges brought under current fire safety legislation.

Multiple Offences

The offences related to significant fire safety deficiencies identified during a routine fire safety audit conducted by inspecting officers from the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service. The deficiencies were deemed to pose a risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire.

The offences included the following:

  • The lack of a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment for the Hotel.
  • Inadequate compartmentation between the basement cellar and the ground floor.
  • A faulty fire alarm system.
  • Unsafe emergency exits and escape routes, including signage left over from the COVID-19 pandemic, which might have sent guests the wrong way in the event of a fire occurring!
  • A lack of staff training.

Following the audit, fire officers deemed the issues of such seriousness that they decided to issue an Enforcement Notice outlining the measures the hotel owner needed to action in order to make the premises safe for guests and employees. However, when the same officers returned to the hotel to check on progress some months later, they duly discovered that many of the fire deficiencies had simply not been rectified.

In Court

The hotel owner was subsequently prosecuted and appeared in Newcastle Crown Court on 17th July 2023 where he pleaded guilty to ten breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The court also heard how previous Enforcement Notices had been issued to the hotel owner between 2009 and 2019 in respect of similar fire breaches.

As a result, the hotel owner was sentenced to 12 months custody for failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment of the premises and 12 months custody for breaching the Enforcement Notice, each to run consecutively, but suspended for a period of two years.

He was sentenced to nine months custody for each of the other eight charges, to run concurrently, and also suspended for two years. Furthermore, he was also ordered by the judge to complete a 250-hour community order and pay £24,124 in costs.

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