THE OWNER of a “potential death trap” hotel has been handed a suspended prison sentence and fined £50,000 for serious breaches of fire regulations which put thousands of lives at risk.
Fire inspectors found Gilson Hotel in Hull city centre was operating without a fully functioning fire alarm, meaning had a fire broken out, it would not have been discovered until its later stages, delaying the evacuation of anyone in the hotel.
The hotel’s owner Kamaljot Kaur, 48, admitted six breaches of a Fire Safety Order
Sentencing at Hull Crown Court yesterday, Judge Jeremy Richardson said the breaches could only be categorised as “very serious” and as any fire could not have been contained, he classed the Gilson Hotel as a “potential death trap.”
He referred to the “lamentable lapses” in fire safety over a long period of time by the owner and a “dereliction of responsibility” when it came to bringing the hotel up to an acceptable standard.
Humberside Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) first visited the hotel in September 2012 and found numerous breaches of the Fire Safety Order. A Prohibition Notice was issued to close the hotel until improvements were made.
Further Enforcement Notices were also issued to improve the fire safety standards of the whole premises.
Although these notices were complied with, it was apparent that the hotel had been operating without a fully functioning fire alarm system., HFRS said.
Any fire at the premises would not have been registered by the fire alarm system and would not have sounded an alarm until found by a person.
HFRS urged all businesses to review their Fire Risk Assessments and their fire safety measures, ensuring that they are maintaining these systems and recording them.
Station manager Martin Peers, of the HFRS Technical Fire Safety team, said: “During this investigation, it is estimated that between 7,000 and 14,000 lives were put at risk at the Gilson Hotel. It is chilling to imagine the outcome of any serious fire which may have broken out in this building.
“Humberside Fire and Rescue is urging any business owners who have any doubts as to whether they are operating within fire safety regulations to contact us first before we knock on their door. We prefer to work with owners to help them operate best practices within their businesses for the safety of their staff, visitors and the wider community.”
HFRS said the ruling served as a warning to other business owners to bring their fire safety up to scratch.
Director of Safety Keith Evans said: “I want to pay tribute to all the hard work done by our Technical Fire Safety team and Warren Spencer and the legal team from Blackhurst Budd for ensuring that we got a successful conviction. The custodial sentence and massive fine sends a very clear message not just to other hotels, but any type of business, who have a reckless disregard for the safety of their staff or visitors.”
Kaur, of Gilson Hotel, Anlaby Road, was handed a nine month suspended prison sentence, £50,000 fine and ordered to pay £15,000 in court costs.