Blackpool hotel owner turned a blind eye to fire safety

A court in Preston fined the former owner of the Plaza Beach Hotel in Blackpool £15,000 for multiple breaches of the Fire Safety Order that saw it treated as an unofficial HMO.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service first visited the hotel in September 2017 and prohibited its use after finding:

  • several members of staff sleeping in the basement with inadequate fire detection,
  • fire separation throughout the hotel was inadequate,
  • fire doors would not close,
  • combustible materials were stored throughout the hotel, including mattresses, on the means of escape,
  • inadequate maintenance of the fire alarm and emergency lighting, and
  • fire risk assessments were not suitable and sufficient.

Local paper, the Blackpool Gazette reported: “While it was listed as a hotel, it was effectively being run as a house of multiple occupancy, with many residents having lived there for a significant time.”

It took another 18 months before Mr Aheed Sultan, the former owner of the hotel, appeared in Blackpool magistrates court charged with 10 offences of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005. Mr Sultan pleaded guilty to seven of the offences.

The sentencing took place on 13 May 2021. Speaking afterwards, Head of Prevention and Protection, Area Manager Mark Hutton said:

“The importance of fire safety in buildings which provide sleeping accommodation should never be underestimated. Unless the risks are taken seriously, and managed appropriately, fire is an ever-present danger. In this case the former owner left too much to chance and failed in his legal duties. If a fire had occurred residents and staff would have been at risk of serious injury or death

“Most hoteliers and business owners recognise fire safety as a legitimate business expense and see the importance of protecting the lives of the people who visit, work and sleep in their premises. We will work hard to support such businesses to comply. In cases like this however, where lives have clearly been put at risk, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service Inspectors will take evidence to the courts”.

Photo credit: Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.