Hotel owner sentenced for fire safety breaches

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On Tuesday 9 June, Alan Diamond, the owner of the Cornhill Hotel, 377 – 379, Promenade, Blackpool, has been given a 9 month sentence, suspended for 18 months, at Preston Crown Court.

The sentencing comes after nearly two years of work involving fire safety teams based in Blackpool alongside Blackpool Council’s health and safety teams. In June 2018, complaints were first received by the fire service after an issue with the fire alarm was reported. Fire safety inspectors initially provided support to the owner and a voluntary agreement was put in place that meant the premises would be closed whilst fire safety improvements were implemented.

In August 2018, Blackpool Council’s health and safety department received a complaint from a paying guest who had stayed in the hotel. Subsequently, fire safety inspectors discovered that the fire alarm was switched off with paying guests still staying at the hotel overnight. The fire safety breaches were of such a serious nature that the decision was made to prohibit use of the hotel, due to:

  • Inadequate fire safety management
  • Inadequate means of escape
  • Inadequate means for giving warning in the event of a fire
  • Inadequate fire separation

A prohibition notice was served which stated that nobody should use the premises other than to undertake remedial fire safety works. However, Alan Diamond continued to accept paying guests and advertise the hotel on a number of internet websites. On three separate occasions Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service fire safety inspectors evidenced paying guests sleeping at the hotel

A prosecution case file was prepared to begin legal proceedings against the owner for

  • Failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
  • Failing to make and give effect to such arrangements as were appropriate, for the planning, organisation, controlling, monitoring and review of the preventative fire safety measures within the premises.
  • Failing to provide appropriate firefighting equipment, detectors and alarms suitable for the premises
  • Failing to ensure that escape routes and exits could be used as quickly and as safely as possible, by failing to provide adequate fire doors throughout the premises.
  • Failing to provide adequate and sufficient fire safety training to staff
  • Failing to comply with a prohibition notice

After a number of court appearances Mr Alan Diamond pleaded guilty to a number of the offences of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 in February 2020.

Group Manager Mark Hutton, Fire Protection Group Manager for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said;

“These were extremely serious fire safety failings which, had a fire occurred in the hotel, were highly likely to have led to widespread loss of life, serious injuries and potentially far-reaching damage to the wider community and reputation of Blackpool as a safe place to visit and stay.

“Our team of dedicated fire safety inspectors, and business safety advisors, work tirelessly to support all businesses that set out to comply with fire safety regulations. Sadly in this case the owner of this business chose not only to ignore that support, but also elected to repetitively breach a prohibition notice and allow his building to be used for guest sleeping accommodation even though he knew there were serious problems with fire doors and the fire alarm.

“Members of the public who expect to be able to book safe sleeping accommodation, and other businesses who are competing in the same marketplace and choose to invest in and embrace fire safety, should be in no doubt that when situations like this occur, and the regulations are flouted, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and its inspectors will not hesitate to gather evidence and take those issues to the courts.”