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HOTEL FIRE NEW JOURNAL-85
 

Hotel Fire Remains Under Investigation
9/18/2007 4:09 PM - Updated 9/19/2007 6:04 AM
A fire at Tulsa’s iconic Camelot Hotel on Peoria near I-44 is under investigation. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports the building is being demolished and that changed how firefighters responded.

The neighbors crowded along the fire line on Tuesday watching the Camelot burn, again.

"I can think of a dozen times probably just in the last couple of years," neighbor Kent Guthrie said.

Fires at the Camelot are not uncommon, but usually they're small and set by transients. Tuesday’s fire was larger, though there wasn't much flame considering the amount of smoke.

A demolition crew was working in the area when the fire started, but the cause isn't known. As part of the demolition, anything that is loose in the hotel is being pushed outside. The trash, which included mattresses and carpet, was in a stack on the roof of a one story concrete structure when the fire started.

The fire department sent their biggest trucks, and dozens of people, because of the potential for a huge fire, but since the building is about to be demolished the firefighters stayed outside and sprayed water through the windows.

"We don't want to jeopardize our firefighters by putting them inside," said Tulsa Fire Department Chief Allen LaCroix.

The Camelot is such an icon that anything that happens to it is of interest, so more people than usual were watching the fire, many of them taking pictures in case this was the last chance they'd get.

"I'm really glad to see it go, but it's kind of an exciting death," Tulsan Elizabeth Belknap said.

The Camelot has survived before and in this case, most of the fire damage was on the outside. Time has done much more damage to the building, and what was saved this time will be torn down and replaced with a convenience store.

"It'll be better than this," said neighbor Stuart Price.

There have been no reports of injuries from the fire.

The Camelot Hotel was condemned in 1996 and has been empty ever since. It is being demolished to make way for new development in the area, including a new QuikTrip.

200 HOTELS 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 has revealed.

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 detectors.

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 Devon.

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 out.

"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 useless.

AN internal fire escape passed through a locked guest room.

A FIRE exit sign was found to be pointing the wrong way.

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 safety.

 

 


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