The Railway Hotel, a permanent fixture in Enniskillen for 100 years, has been fined £2,000 for failing to have an appropriate fire alarm system in place.
The owners also admitted failing to comply with an enforcement notice stating the legal requirement to install an automatic fire detection system.
In the case heard at Enniskillen Magistrates Court, a solicitor for the Fire and Rescue Service explained that on March 29, 2011 fire safety officers conducted checks in the hotel and found no automatic fire detection system in the bedrooms.
The owners installed battery detectors as an interim measure, but were informed they had to install an integrated fire alarm system powered by the mains electricity.
Despite numerous visits by officers between April 2011 and December 2011 work was not carried out on the fire alarm system.
On January 11, 2012 the owners were cautioned about failing to begin work and then on February 1, 2012 were served with an Enforcement Notice requiring them to start, to which they made no appeal nor asked for any extension.
The enforcement note expired on May 1 and the owners failed to attend an interview to explain their non-compliance.
The solicitor explained that on one visit to the premises dated April 17 fire inspectors encountered a number of issues with the premises and noted that some of the fire alarms were not operational as they did not have batteries in them. This was later remedied by the time of a later visit on the same day.
By July 2012 the breach remained and the enforcement proceedings were brought against the owners.
Defence barrister Heather Philips highlighted to the court the cost of installing the fire alarm system, revealing the owners could not afford the £25,000 to £30,000 fee, calling it ‘unattainable’. She told the court they had been seeking funding for the work from local agencies and had been in contact with a local MLA.
In regards to the issue of no batteries in the fire alarms Miss Philips noted that this mistake was rectified within the hour and a regular monitoring system had been put in place. She explained that the Fire Service had indicated the battery operated system was ‘perfectly safe’.
In mitigation the defence highlighted that one the directors involved in the business for 15 years had significant health problems and noted that the 19 room hotel had been operating at a loss for the past two years.
She told the court her clients were keen to keep the business running over the summer months and informed the court the owners still maintained the new alarm system would be in place ‘as soon as possible’.
She asked the judge to consider the early plea of guilty and the limited finances available.
District Judge Nigel Broderick accepted there had been genuine attempts to secure funding on behalf of the owners, but stated: “These are important regulations for the protection of anyone who stays in these premises.”
Mr Broderick said it was a concern the alarm system was not operational and said that guest staying in the hotel had a right to expect to be safe.
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