13 March 2015
London Fire Brigade (LFB) has secured its biggest ever fine against a private individual after successfully prosecuting a hotelier who put lives at risk by flouting fire safety laws.
Salim Patel, the former owner of The Radnor Hotel in Bayswater, was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £29,922 court costs after pleading guilty to seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
He was also handed a four month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.
When fire safety officers visited the six-floor, 18-room hotel in 2011 to carry out a routine inspection they discovered numerous fire safety breaches, including failure to:
- Install adequate fire doors on the escape staircase and storage areas in the basement, complete with intumescent strips and cold smoke seals
- Ensure that all emergency exits were kept clear and accessible
- Make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment
- Provide an adequate fire detection system
- Ensure that staff were adequately trained in matters of fire safety.
There was also evidence that the basement storeroom was being used for sleeping and, having been served with an enforcement notice, Mr Patel failed to take any action, with the hotel continuing to operate without a working fire detection system.
Sentencing Mr Patel at the Old Bailey on Tuesday 10 March, Sentencing Judge Kennedy said the public expected 'absolute attention' to fire safety when sleeping in a hotel and that Mr Patel did not provide it. The judge added that, as the business owner, he was where the ‘buck stopped.’
The LFB’s Head of Fire Safety Regulation, Neil Orbell, said: “Our fire safetyofficers carry out around 16,000 inspectionsevery year to help ensure the capital's buildings are safe from fire.
“This is the biggest fine we have ever secured against an individual for breaking fire safety laws and itshould send a message to all business owners that if they are shirking their fire safety responsibilities and putting the public at risk we won’t hesitate to prosecute.
"The size of the fine should also serve as a stark reminder that the courts take fire safety just as seriously as we do."
Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.