Prohibition notice served after serious fire in flats

The owner of a block of flats in Bolton has been served a prohibition notice under the Housing Act 2004, following a serious fire.
Inadequate means of escape and poor fire resistance throughout the block were among the breaches of fire safety regulations highlighted by Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Fire safety officers also found the fire doors to be inadequate and said that some were even missing.
A joint inspection by Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the local council took place after the blaze, which started in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The fire spread from the lobby of the ground floor to the ceiling, causing the plaster to burn through. A female was rescued from her room and taken to hospital suffering from severe smoke inhalation while a further 12 people were led to safety by firefighters from both the front and rear of the three-storey block. A total of 25 firefighters battled the fire, using hose reel jets.
The block was mixed use accommodation, with flats as well as commercial premises. The fire is currently under police investigation.

A major pub chain has been fined £300,000 after a Merseyside landlord died

A major pub chain has been fined £300,000 after a Merseyside landlord died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and tenants at another 474 pubs were put at risk.
Paul Lee was found unconscious by a cleaner at the Aintree Hotel on Aintree Road in Bootle just after midday on 12 November 2007. He had turned on a gas fire in his living room ten hours earlier before falling asleep.
The 41-year-old suffered a heart attack due to lack of oxygen on the way to the hospital and died the following morning without regaining consciousness. He had worked as the tenant landlord at the pub for less than a month.
The owner of the Aintree Hotel, Enterprise Inns plc, was prosecuted after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the fire alarm may not have been serviced since 1979 and the chimney was completely blocked.
The West Midlands based company, which owns approximately 7,700 pubs across the UK and has an annual turnover of £818 million, admitted breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Enterprise Inns should have ensured that gas safety inspections were carried out at 868 of its pubs at least every 12 months, but that only 394 had valid certificates. The gas heater which caused Mr Lee’s death should have been checked before he took over the tenancy.
Enterprise Inns also received a written warning from HSE in 2001, following a fire at one of its properties in Birmingham, which highlighted a systematic failure to implement annual gas safety checks.
Mr Lee with his stepdaughter
“Tests we carried out on the gas fire at the Aintree Hotel showed that the workplace limit for exposure to carbon monoxide would have been exceeded within five minutes of it being turned on, and would have reached a level known to be fatal within an hour.
“The chimney from the fire was completely blocked so there was nowhere for the carbon monoxide to escape. Instead, it gradually built up in the room and starved Mr Lee’s organs of oxygen until he was left unconscious.
“What makes this case so tragic is that Mr Lee’s life could have been saved if Enterprise Inns had continued to obey the written warning it received about gas safety six years earlier, instead of falling back into old habits.”
Enterprise Inns plc, of Monkspath Hall Road in Solihull was ordered to pay £19,000 towards the cost of the prosecution in addition to the fine at Liverpool Crown Court on 5 October.

Hotel group pays £127,000 after ‘cavalier disregard’ of fire safety

A luxury hotel near Manchester has had to pay £127,000 for what a judge called a ‘cavalier disregard’ for the safety of guests.
Hallmark Hotels pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Chester Crown Court yesterday.
The Hallmark Manchester – formerly the Belfry House Hotel in Wilmslow – was visited by firefighters in April 2008 during renovations. According to Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, they were so concerned about what they found that fire safety officers were brought in the same day and served a prohibition notice closing the hotel.
The court heard that there was no operable automatic detection or manual call points on the third floor of the 160-capacity hotel, while on other floors there were faulty smoke detectors and substandard fire exits. Also staff had not been properly trained in fire safety.
The hotel was allowed to reopen four days later after remedial action was taken.
Hallmark Hotels was fined £75,000 (£25,000 for each offence) and ordered to pay costs of £52,000.

Hotel manager fined after alarm system failed in fire

Magistrates have ordered a hotel manager to pay fines and costs totalling £5,355 after a detection and alarm system failed to activate in a fire.
Nine residents were staying at the Plume of Feathers at Harley, near Shrewsbury, in the early hours of July 27 last year when the wife of the hotel manager opened the bedroom door to find smoke in the corridor, according to Shropshire Fire and Rescue.
She tried to raise the alarm by activating manual call points but the alarm failed to activate. Her husband and other members of staff had to knock on bedroom doors to wake guests.
Area manager John Das-Gupta said that although the premises were fitted with a full automatic fire detection and alarm system, it had not been adequately tested by the manager and the alarm failed to operate and raise the sleeping occupants.

Michael Martin pleaded guilty to one offence under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Shrewsbury Magistrates Court on 17 September.

Penhallow hotel owners face charges under Fire Safety Order

The owners of the Penhallow Hotel in Newquay are to be prosecuted for offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.
Three people died in a fire at the hotel on 18 August 2007 in what was the most serious hotel fire in the UK for 30 years. More than 80 people managed to escape, but the hotel was destroyed.
Cornwall County Council said that summonses had been served on the owners and three employees “following a comprehensive investigation into the fire precautions” at the hotel.
Last year an inquest into the deaths delivered an open verdict after hearing more than three weeks of evidence. Although there was evidence that the fire started from a naked flame, investigators were unable to say for certain how it began.
The defendants are due to appear at Bodmin Magistrates Court.

Safety call after mid-air plunge

The UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has issued new safety recommendations after an easyJet Boeing 737 nose-dived nearly 9,000 ft while on a post-maintenance check flight.
The report by the air investigators has called for a tightening of procedures after it was discovered that a “confusion between the two pilots” resulted in the plunge before control was recovered.
According to the report, the co-pilot had received “no formal training” to conduct such a flight, while various elements of the check “demonstrated practices which would have been deemed unacceptable in normal operations”.
The report said there was “a lack of any kind of communication” between the pilots and the two observers on the public transport aircraft for more than one-and-a-quarter minutes when things had started going wrong on the flight.
It added that the co-pilot “only realised something was wrong” when the captain made an emergency Possible Assistance Needed (PAN) call – one stage down from a Mayday call.
The report also found that one of the observers was seated on a storage cupboard behind the captain’s seat and was not restrained by a safety harness. The incident had happened in skies west of Norwich, Norfolk, on the afternoon of January 12, 2009.