Poor fire safety standards at Sunderland hostel uncovered

After being called to a fire at a hostel in Sunderland, firefighters have uncovered serious fire safety violations including fire doors that were shut and padlocked.

The fire broke out at the Norfolk Hotel, a former 42-bed hotel that is now being used as a hostel accommodating 37 people, in November 2012. The blaze started in a bedroom, and firefighters discovered when they arrived on the scene that the nearest fire exit to this room was locked shut with a heavy-duty bike lock. This meant that if residents needed to use the fire exit to escape the blaze, they would have been unable to and might have had to risk a more dangerous escape route.

Other breaches of fire safety law were uncovered by a fire officer who arrived to inspect the premises following the fire, including insufficient fire safety training for staff members at the hostel. There was also a lack of manually operated fire alarm call points, which would enable people to set off the fire alarms in case of fire, and a lack of regular fire drills.

The owners of the hostel have now been fined for the breaches at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court. In total, the managers and licensee were fined £6,880 and ordered to pay£3,911 in court costs.