Hotel Operator Fined

The company that operates Tantons Hotel, New Road, Bideford, was sentenced to fines totalling £40,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs for breaching fire safety regulations at Exeter Crown Court on 20 September 2012. 

Chescombe Limited had previously pleaded guilty to five offences under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. 

Station Manager Graham Rooke said after the sentencing that the case had made it clear how important it was for hotel managers to ensure that fire safety precautions were in place. 

He said: "The Judge gave a clear indication that a strong message needed to go out to those that manage and invest in hotels about the importance of fire safety. 

"Had the finances of the company been in a stronger position, he would have considered fines of between £25,000 and £35,000 for each of the five offences." 

The prosecution follows a serious fire at the Tantons Hotel in Bideford in the early hours of 31 May 2011 in which a total of 55 people had to be evacuated. 

This included four people who were trapped on the roof of the building by extreme heat and dense smoke, who were rescued by both police and fire crews. 

A number of potential breaches of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 were identified at the time of the incident and through further investigation. 

The legislation places a duty on the responsible person for the premises to take steps to prevent the loss of life, property and business by completing a fire risk assessment and ensuring that appropriate fire safety measures are in place. 

The responsible person from the Tantons Hotel has pleaded guilty to a number of offences, these include: 

  • Failure to implement the requirements highlighted from their fire risk assessment 
  • Failure to maintain their fire alarm system to the appropriate standard 
  • Failure to ensure that all fire resisting doors met the appropriate standard 
  • Failure to ensure that all escape routes were unobstructed and all final exit doors could be easily opened in the event of danger. 

The fines were reduced due to Chescombe Limited giving guilty pleas and co-operating with the investigation. 

Further information on the requirements of the fire safety law, and a risk assessment form template, can be found on the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service website under the your safety/safety at work and other places tab.