GUESTS AT a hotel in Brighton, England, were each issued with individual torches because the emergency lighting in the building was so badly maintained and constituted a major danger, it has emerged.
The 600-bedroom hotel had no fewer than 72 non-working emergency lights, fire investigators discovered when they followed up on complaints.
‘As a fire service, we closed one floor and had torches issued as a temporary measure until they were fixed in the following few days’, fire assessor Dex Allen told a conference on emergency lighting in London. ‘This is the kind of action that we will take if there isn’t a suitable system for maintenance’.
Allen warned that maintenance of emergency lighting installations was still not a priority for many building owners and operators.
Allen also described the shock that some experienced when confronted with their breaches of fire safety legislation and read their legal rights.
‘You sit down with a tape running and say ‘you do not have to say anything but anything you do say may be taken down and given in evidence against you. It may my harm your defence if you don't mention when questioned something you later rely on in court’.
‘That's about the time, in my experience, that people really start to realise they’ve got it seriously wrong,’ Allen told the Lux-organised Emergency Lighting Conference.
‘You've issued a notification of deficiencies; you've written to them; you've spoken to the management and directors; you've issued an enforcement notice; you might have issued a prohibition notice; and then you’ve sent them a letter saying that ‘you're being investigated’.
‘But when you sit down and press the ‘record’ button and start uttering those [Right to Silence] words, you’ll see all sorts of reactions such as a stunned silence to people muttering ‘I wish I’d got my legal adviser involved’. Some start crying.’
Allen’s revelations follow a spate of prosecutions for unsafe emergency lighting.
In January landlord Manmohan Sahib was jailed for four months in prison over a lack of emergency lighting and other measures at his property at 361 Ilford High Street, Essex. He was also ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £23,076. A confiscation order of £8,400, relating to income received while the premises were prohibited, was also imposed.
In the same month, another landlord, Devinder Punian, was fined almost £19,000 over breaches to fire safety – including defective emergency lighting – at a property in Clarendon Avenue, Leamington Spa.
In June last year, former hotelier Amandeep Sandhu was sent to prison for eight months after admitting that his establishment, Cutlers Hotel in Sheffield, lacked adequate emergency lighting and other fire safety equipment.
In September, Birmingham barrister Lewis Perry was fined almost £5,000 over the lack of emergency lighting and other fire safety equipment at a rental property in Hunton Road, Erdington, Birmingham.
The prosecutions are being widely seen as a ‘get tough’ approach to fire safety following last July’s fatal Grenfell Tower blaze.
- Lux’s next free-to-attend Emergency Lighting Conference takes place in the Escape Zone at the LuxLive 2018 exhibition. The show takes place on Wednesday 14 November and Thursday 15 November 2018 at ExCeL London. Entry is free if you pre-register HERE.
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