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Fire alarm failure court case leads to payout in Shropshire

Officer John Das Gupta warns businesses to take fire safety measures in their premises
Senior fire officer John Das Gupta of
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service 

Court ordered hotel manager to pay £5,355 fines in the first court case brought by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service after the failure of fire alarms.

Magistrates have ordered a hotel manager to pay fines and costs totalling £5,355 in the first court case of its kind brought by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service after the fire alarm failed to go off in the premises.

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, said a senior fire officer.

Vikki Martin tried to raise the alarm by breaking the “break glass” call points but the fire alarm failed to operate. Her husband Michael and other members of staff had to knock on bedroom doors to wake guests.

“Any premises that provide sleeping accommodation are seen as a high life risk and life safety systems such as fire alarms should be maintained in working order," said Area Manager John Das-Gupta, responsible for Prevention and Protection, as he warned Shropshire businesses that they must take responsibility for fire safety in business premises.

He said that: "Although the premises were fitted with a full automatic fire alarm and fire detection system, it had not been adequately tested by the manager and the alarm failed to operate and raise the sleeping occupants."

Fully automatic fire alarm and fire detection system was inadequately tested by the manager and hence failed to operate

Mr Martin pleaded guilty at Shrewsbury Magistrates Court on September 17 to an offence under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. It was a landmark case for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“As a service we are committed to maintaining the highest standards of public safety and as such if we identify any premises which are in contravention of the legislation, we will take action. This could result in prosecution,” said Mr John Das-Gupta.

Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, which is the enforcing authority, has run a series of seminars for county firms, including hotels and B & B’s, over the past few years to educate owners and managers about their legal responsibilities for fire safety at their premises.

Despite difficult economic times it was important for businesses to safeguard people using their premises and not to “put aside” their statutory responsibilities. Appropriate fire alarm systems, fire extinguishers, evacuation plans mixed with regular fire drills and employee training were essential in all business premises, he said.

Companies in the county have been urged to contact Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service if they need any information on how to compile a fire risk assessment and comply with the Fire Safety Order. Fire safety guidance books for businesses are available.

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