Questions Remain Unanswered Following Penhallow Hotel Fire in Newquay

Fire at Penhallow Hotel, Newquay

20.08.2007

Questions continue to be asked as to why one man died and two people are still missing after the fire at Newquay's Penhallow Hotel on Saturday 18 August.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has claimed that not enough fire-fighters or equipment was available to tackle the blaze when it engulfed the hotel. The FBU has claimed that not only did the fire-fighters find themselves without adequate staff but also without the necessary equipment as the two platforms operated by the Cornwall Fire Brigade, necessary to fight fires in multi storey buildings, were being repaired and one had to travel 50 miles from Plymouth.

There is also concern that new Fire safety regulations, which came into force in October 2006, which allow hotel to carry out their own risk assessments are inadequate. Questions have been asked as to whether this relaxation in legislation, allowing such premises to self certify, in any way contributed to these events?

Stuart Henderson, Partner at law firm Irwin Mitchell said Whenever a tragic event such as this occurs it is essential that all relevant agencies urgently investigate any factors that caused or contributed to the fire getting out of control leading to loss of life and injury.

In this case concerns are already emerging about why the hotel infrastructure and evacuation procedures did not avoid major injury and whether recent relaxation of fire certification procedures may have contributed. The concern expressed by the FBU about the availability of fire fighting resource and equipment that may have slowed down the efforts made to bring the fire under control also need urgent review.

Following this tragedy we would encourage all hotel and guest house owners to take a fresh look at their fire safety and evacuation procedures to ensure they comply with the law and provide the best platform to prevent fire developing and to provide safe evacuation of guests if a fire should occur. This is essential both for public safety but also of course for insurance purposes. If in doubt assistance should be sought from the local fire authority.

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