Hotel owner jailed over breaches in fire safety

Published: 27 Oct 2015

Mr David Schofield, the owner of a hotel in Paignton, Devon, was handed a jail sentence after admitting seven breaches of fire safety rules. Mr David Schofield was given a six month sentence, suspended for two years, at Essex Crown

The failings were uncovered after a false fire alert brought the property to the attention of inspectors. Guests at the hotel noted that the fire alarms had not sounded during the alert.

When inspectors from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service investigated, they immediately issued a prohibition notice shutting it down until the required improvements had been made.

It was later found that a raft of unsafe practices had been undertaken at the premises including;

  • Safety evacuation procedures were inadequate.
  • Fire alarms were faulty.
  • There was inadequate fire fighting equipment.

Judge Philip Wassell said: "A fire would have spread really quickly in the premises," he said.

"This hotel was so dangerous that I don't see myself with any other option than to impose a custodial punishment."

Implications for Clients:

To ensure legal compliance, it is imperative that our clients in the regulatory compliance sector including leisure and hospitality sectors comply with the fire safety requirements as laid out in the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order. In brief, the requirements which need to be met include the following:

  1. Implementation of a fire risk assessment which has been carried out by a competent person.
  2. The fire risk assessment must be reviewed on an annual basis or when structural changes have occurred which may affect fire safety egress.
  3. Ensure that a fire safety management is implemented with adequate internal safety checks conducted and documented.
  4. Adequate fire evacuation plans to be put in place with planned evacuation drills to be carried out as required.
  5. A suitable supply of fire fighting equipment to be made available with fire detection equipment and alarm to be maintained on an annual basis by a competent contractor.


In conclusion, failure to meet legal compliance could not only result in possible loss of life, but will almost certainly result in enforcement action being taken against individuals and businesses found guilty of fire safety breaches.