BREACH FIRE LAWS
11:00 - 21 September 2007
More than 200 hotels in South Devon are failing to
comply with new fire regulations, a top fire officer
He has accused local businesses of being 'slow on
the uptake' in implementing their own risk assessment
changes since brigade chiefs served their first warnings
about the 2006 legal overhaul two years ago.All the
hotels are now on a brigade hit list which firefighters
are busily working through to make sure they comply
with the provisions of the Fire Safety Order rules
which came into effect in October last year.
Each by law now has to be fitted with a British Standard
5839 Type L2 early warning system - or equivalent
- to replace any which have existed before. The system
effectively covers every room and corridor with smoke
Those which do not get their act together are being
issued with Enforcement Notices requiring them to
complete the work by a stated deadline.
It is understood several hotels in Devon are now
facing prosecution by the Devon and Somerset Fire
and Rescue Service for not acting on the notices.
It has not been disclosed if any of them is in South
But a dozen such enforcement notices have been served
on hotels in Torquay alone.
The tally of 200 'out of date' fire alarm systems
in local hotels has been confirmed by old safety records
kept by the brigade who used to issue Fire Certificates
until the law changed a year ago.
It is estimated there are about 1,800 hotels, B &Bs
and guest houses in the area.
The fire officer, who did not want to be named, said
the 200 figure had not come as a surprise.
He stressed the emergency service was 'amenable'
for any agreed time scale for the work to be carried
"We are not bully boys. But we are saying alarm
systems are the priority. For the average sleeping
accommodation the cost will be £5,000 which
is a small price to pay for safeguarding lives. Hotels
need to get their priorities right."
One maintenance engineer, who asked to remain anonymous,
revealed a Torquay hotel he had been working on this
month was a 'complete shambles'.
He had refused to carry out any more work on the
property after uncovering a series of faults which,
he claims, the owner told him to ignore.
He has passed on his concerns to Torbay Council's
environmental health department.
The worrying picture about fire safety came as an
independent fire safety consultant found that 13 of
the 14 three-star South West hotels he chose at random
for inspection failed to meet basic fire safety precautions.
Torquay's Livermead Cliff Hotel was claimed to be
the worst of 14 checked over by an undercover team
in the wake of the Penhallow Hotel fire which killed
three people in Newquay last month.
The findings were featured on the BBC South West
programme Inside Out screened on Wednesday night.
West Midlands-based independent fire safety consultant
Alan Cox said the alleged shortcomings included:
ONE fire escape was 'corroded' and another was positioned
next to unsealed and open windows which led off the
hotel kitchen and guest bedrooms. Such windows should
be sealed shut to prevent a fire rendering the escape
AN internal fire escape passed through a locked guest
A FIRE exit sign was found to be pointing the wrong
Mr Cox, who examined hotels in four resorts, was
so disturbed by the Livermead Cliff's showing that
he contacted fire safety chiefs who have since inspected
the hotel and agreed a programme of improvements with
the hotel's joint director Tim Rew.
Mr Rew stressed the safety of guests was vital and
said he would deal with any safety issues.
He hoped by Christmas most of the points raised in
the BBC survey would be resolved.
"If the fire service had been as concerned as
the BBC a different approach would have been taken
by them. I have always found the service to be fair
and realistic," he said.
He revealed the hotel will, in the next three weeks,
be the subject of a renovation programme running into
'several million pounds'.
The aim was for the Livermead Cliff to be one of
the premier hotels in the Bay which would not only
meet all requirements, but surpass them. "If
you look hard enough you can find fault with anything,"
said Mr Rew.
In a prepared statement he added: "The Livermead
Cliff Hotel considers the safety of its guests to
be of paramount importance.
"The issue of fire protection was and is being
considered as part of a much larger scheme.
"We are in contact with Devon and Somerset Fire
and Rescue Services and will meet with them shortly
with a view to agreeing a programme and timetable
of works which will address any outstanding issues
and meet their ongoing requirements."
Mr Rew said the fire authorities had found its condition
to be acceptable. He was not happy with the programme,
claiming it had hit the Livermead Cliff just as it
was about to start its major renovation programme.
"The timing could not have been worse for us,"
he said. "Our work starts next month."
Gordon Oliver, chairman of Torbay Hospitality Association,
said anyone with responsibilities for the running
of hotels, guest houses, self-catering units, offices
and shops, had to be vigilant on the issue of public