Stratford hotel fined £45k over ‘serious and systemic’ fire safety failures

A Stratford hotel has been ordered to pay a total of £45,000 for “serious and systemic” fire safety failures which “put staff and guests at risk”.

According to London Fire Brigade (LFB), Act Grange, which runs The Baytree Hotel in Vicarage Lane, and the company’s sole director Falgun Patel were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on 13 January after pleading guilty to five breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

LFB said if Patel fails to pay his fine he could face six months imprisonment.

Fire safety officers visited the 16-room hotel, which is above a “traditional” East-End pub, in January 2019 as part of a routine audit.

During the visit, they found “serious fire safety deficiencies” including no smoke detection, numerous fire doors tied open and missing or malfunctioning door closers.

Officers also found a first floor external emergency exit route was being used to store large amounts of rubbish and was blocked along almost its entire length. It led to a gate which was locked and could not be opened by staff.

LDB added there was no fire risk assessment in place or any evidence of methodical management of fire safety and on duty staff could not explain emergency procedures.

Following the visit, an enforcement notice was served on Patel and he was interviewed under caution in relation to the deficiencies. LFB said it then took the prosecution forward to court.

LFB assistant commissioner for fire safety, Dan Daly, said: “There were serious and systemic fire safety failures at The Baytree Hotel and what few steps were taken to satisfy fire safety duties were amateurish and half-hearted.

“A fire in a building with serious fire safety failings such as those our inspectors uncovered could have been lethal and the owner has put staff and guests at very real risk by failing to maintain standards.”

He added: “If occupants had tried to escape in the event of a fire, they would have found their escape route compromised and unusable, trapping them in the building.

“It was simply a matter of luck that there hadn’t been a fire at the hotel. There is no excuse for leaving people’s safety to chance, especially when information is so readily available to those with responsibility for safety in buildings to understand what their duties are and ensure they comply with the law.”

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