Company breached fire safety laws

Update, 19 February 2013:

The company was today fined £22,000 and ordered to pay £18,000 prosecution costs. Mr Moloo was sentenced to two months in prison, suspended for two years.

Denis Murphy, the WMFS Fire Safety Legal Officer who led the investigation, said: "The sentence sends a very strong reminder to businesses in the West Midlands about the importance of fire safety. It is vital to staff and customers' well-being, and to protect companies' viability should they be unfortunate enough to be hit by fire."

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The director of a company which owns and used to operate a 60-room West Midlands hotel has pleaded guilty to breaching fire safety laws.

At a hearing today (15 January 2013) at Warwickshire Justice Centre, Leamington Spa Mr Karim Moloo (37), of Middlesex, admitted several breaches of the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005.

His company, Cumberland Court Ltd, repeatedly broke the law in spite of warnings and notices issued by WMFS fire safety officers who inspected the Hylands Hotel on Warwick Road, Cheylesmore, Coventry.

Investigations had originally started following a complaint from a guest at the hotel, who was concerned about poor standards of fire safety.

The use of the second floor for sleeping accommodation was subsequently banned, because of inadequate automatic fire detection equipment, unless suitable alterations were carried out.

During further inspection, the fire alarm system was found not to be working on all levels of the building, and fire exits were found to be poorly maintained, blocked and even locked.

The hotel now has new operators and complies fully with fire safety legislation.

Mr Moloo and the company admitted offences committed in 2010 and 2011. They failed to take general fire safety precautions with regard to staff and other people, and did not comply with an enforcement notice issued by West Midlands Fire Service.

In addition, the company admitted failing to carry out a sufficient fire risk assessment and to not fitting suitable fire detectors and alarms. It also pleaded guilty to having locked and blocked fire exits, and not having suitable testing arrangements in place for the emergency lighting.

Sentencing was adjourned until 19 February 2013.

Denis Murphy, the WMFS Fire Safety Legal Officer who led the investigation, said: “These were shocking breaches of fire safety laws. I have no doubt that, had there been a fire, the hotel’s staff and guests were at serous risk of being killed or seriously hurt.

“Hotels can be large, complex buildings. People working and staying in them rightly expect that their safety will be a top priority, that the fire alarms will work and that their escape routes will be clear.

“West Midlands Fire Service works with businesses and employers across the region to ensure that their premises, staff and customers are as safe from fire as possible. We will not tolerate people’s lives being put at risk, and have a number of other court cases coming up.”

Last week (9 Jan), in a separate case heard at Wolverhampton Crown Court, a man was given an eight-month jail term, suspended for two years, after admitting fire safety offences.

Parmjit Kalirai (66), retired director of The Fox Hotel (Wolverhampton) Ltd, was prosecuted for 23 breaches dating back to May 2009. He was ordered to pay prosecution costs of more than £19,000. Work to remedy the deficiencies was carried out, but the hotel has since been demolished.

Extensive fire safety advice for businesses and residents is available on the West Midlands Fire Service website at www.wmfs.net, or by calling 0800 389 5525 free of charge.

Ends

Issued by Neil Spencer, Senior Media Relations Officer, West Midlands Fire Service, tel 0121 380 6101. Regular updates on incidents and other WMFS activities can be found on the media voicebank, tel 0871 550 0056. On Twitter we’re @WestMidsFire.

Press Release Date: 
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 17:45