Prosecution calls attention to the need for adequate ductwork

Published:  10 April, 2012

The successful prosecution of a London hotel and its manager after a fire has called attention to the need for facilities managers and risk assessors to ensure adequate safety measures are installed in these types of premises.

The Chumleigh Lodge Hotel Ltd, and sole director Michael Wilson, faced more than £260,000 in fines and costs after going on trial for 12 offences in February, in what is believed to be the first jury trial of a case under the legislation.

The hotel in Finchley was found guilty of six of these offences dating back to a fire on 18 May, 2008, while Wilson was found guilty of ‘consent or connivance in the commission of' those same offences.

Following the fire, London Fire Brigade fire safety inspectors visited the hotel and raised a number of concerns including defective fire doors, blocked escape routes, and no smoke alarms in some of the hotel’s bedrooms.

The hotel also failed to produce proof of a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment, and was found not to have provided staff with adequate fire safety training.

Chairman of London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority Cllr Brian Coleman said: “Business owners have a clear responsibility under fire safety law to ensure that both the public and their employees are as safe as possible from the risk of fire.

“This verdict sends out a clear message that if these responsibilities are ignored we will not hesitate in prosecuting and people will face serious penalties.”

In a similar case in July 2011, an external fire risk assessor and a hotel manager were prosecuted and jailed for eight months for fire safety offences.

A recent report from fire-resistant ductwork systems manufacturer Fire Protection Ltd (FPL), highlighted that the successful installation and operation of appropriate fire safety measures are vital to the protection of both people and buildings.

The report concerned a fire that occurred inside the kitchen extract ductwork of Watford’s exclusive five-star rated Grove Hotel, which spread no further thanks to the installation of the company's Flamebar BW11 fire resistant ductwork system.

The Flamebar BW11 system, constructed from galvanised sheet steel and sprayed with a specially formulated water-based fire protective compound, completely contained the blaze and the section that contained the fire showed no sign of deterioration, despite the standard ventilation ductwork being completely destroyed.