The firm which runs the Campanile Hotel group has been ordered to pay a fine of £220,000 and costs of over £30,000 after one of its properties was found to be operating without a working fire alarm.
The breach of fire safety legislation initially came to light when a guest made a complaint to Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority about conditions at the Campanile Hotel in Stratford. He had been staying at the hotel in August 2018 and noticed a plastic cover placed over the smoke detector in his room. On his way out the following day he discovered the same plastic covers over the detectors in the corridors of the first and second floors and also in the stairway. The guest approached the reception desk to ask for an explanation but with no satisfactory response, he contacted the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority with his concerns. In response to the complaint, an operational response crew visited the hotel. The fire officers found that in addition to the smoke detection system having been disabled, the fire alarm panel had no power supply.
They discovered that the 80 bedroom hotel had in fact been operating at close to full capacity for six weeks without a functioning fire detection and alarm system. A prohibition notice was issued requiring the hotel’s immediate closure and the evacuation of all guests. After the notice was issued, a new fire alarm system was installed within 3 days, satisfying the conditions of the notice and enabling the hotel to reopen.
The Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority followed up to check on the action taken and to review the fire safety management arrangements in detail. Its specialist fire safety inspectors then uncovered a history of concerns dating back several years. The fire alarm problems, for example, had stemmed from at least October 2017 when the 20 year old system was condemned by the hotel’s fire alarm engineers.
In April 2020, Milcardar Ltd, the owners of the Campanile hotel chain, appeared before Aylesbury Crown Court via Skype due to the coronavirus outbreak. The defendants had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to nine offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005. The judge stated that the fine was reduced to account for the negative impact of the pandemic on Milcardar’s ability to trade.