National hotel chain pleads guilty to fire safety offences

Hotel chain Travelodge has been fined £13,000 and ordered to pay 6,500 costs after breaching fire safety law at its Gatwick Airport Central hotel.
The company pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Haywards Heath magistrates court on Friday 14 September.
The prosecution was started after crews were called to extinguish a blaze on the ground floor of the six-storey hotel, which was being refurbished at the time, in September 2011. When fire safety officers attended the hotel, they were so concerned by the inadequacy of the fire safety measures that a prohibition notice was served preventing anyone from staying at the hotel.
The seven breaches were:

  • An inadequate fire alarm system
  • Failure to review their fire risk assessment
  • Inadequate fire safety training for staff
  • No planning, organisation, control and monitoring of fire prevention and protection measures
  • Failure to properly maintain fire safety equipment
  • Obstruction of escape routes
  • Blocked fire exits

Protection group manager for West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, Andy Tonks, said:
“Fortunately, due to the professionalism of our crews at the time of the incident, the fire was brought under control quickly and nobody was hurt. However, under different circumstances, the consequences could have been life-threatening.
“Protecting the public will always be our top priority and while we would much rather offer advice to the businesses to help them comply with fire safety law, where serious breaches are putting people’s lives at risk we will certainly seek to prosecute.”
Responding to the conviction, a Travelodge spokesperson told info4fire:
“At the time of the incident in September 2011, Travelodge Gatwick Airport Central was undergoing a major refurbishment project by a third party property contractor. Due to the unique set of circumstances a business decision was taken to close the hotel in order to accelerate the £10million overhaul programme that was currently taking place.
“During this time we worked very closely with West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and only once they were satisfied we had complied with all the fire safety regulations did Gatwick Central Airport Travelodge re-open for business in January 2012.
“The safety of our customer and our staff remains our number one priority throughout our 500 hotels.”

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