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Safety concerns raised before hotel fire tragedy

Fire at the New County HotelLukas Kuba

Health and safety experts raised 23 areas needing “urgent” attention at a Perth hotel weeks before a fatal fire.

Donna Janse Van Rensburg, Sharon McLean and Keith Russell died after fire gutted the New County Hotel.

A police investigation into the blaze is ongoing but it has now been revealed that an audit of the hotel in December said improvements were needed.

The firm which carried out the review has confirmed it made a series of safety recommendations at the hotel.

This story was first reported by The Courier newspaper.

Health and safety firm Croner confirmed the paper’s report was accurate and that it would “co-operate fully with any requests for information from the relevant authorities”.

  • Victims of Perth hotel fire tragedy named
  • Guest tells of escape from New County Hotel blaze
  • Three dead in blaze at New County Hotel

The Croner review was conducted about four weeks before the January 2 fire and, according to The Courier, states: “At the time of the visit the standard of health and safety management at this site was below an acceptable level with some health and safety matters requiring urgent management corrective action.”

The electrical wiring in the hotel was among the areas of concern with the report adding: “There is no evidence that the fixed hard-wired electrical system has been subject to a periodic inspection within the recommended timescales, and an Electrical Inspection Condition Report has not been issued within the recommended timescales.”

Croner Group recommended that an inspection should be carried out throughout the building by a qualified electrical engineer.

Sharon McLean, Donna Janse Van Rensburg and Keith Russell

Police Scotland

The review found 29 areas of concern, including:

  • No evidence to indicate that the gas appliances had been issued with a safety certificate
  • Arrangements to keep walkways free from slip, trip and fall hazards were inadequate
  • Adequate arrangements were not in place for water testing, disinfection, cleaning, de-scaling of shower heads and flushing of infrequently used water outlets
  • The extraction systems had not been subject to a recent internal deep cleaning
  • It could not be determined at the time of the visit if a suitable carbon dioxide alarm or detection system was installed
  • Flooring, walls and ceilings were in a state of disrepair
  • A legionella management plan had not been prepared and implemented

The alarm at the New County Hotel was raised at about 05:10 on 2 January, leading to a huge response from the emergency services. There were 21 ambulance crews, 60 firefighters and nine fire appliances at the scene at its peak.

About 16 hotel guests and two people from neighbouring flats were evacuated and it was confirmed later that day that three people had died in the blaze.

New County Hotel fire

Stuart Cowper

Police and fire service investigations into the incident are continuing.

Paul Holcroft, managing director at Croner, said: “In light of the ongoing investigation into this matter it would not be appropriate for us to provide detailed comment further to that contained within the report. We will, of course, co-operate fully with any requests for information from the relevant authorities.”

BBC Scotland has so far been unable to contact hotel owner Rashid Hussain but he previously told The Times he was not involved in the day-to-day running of the venue and dismissed claims of health and safety concerns at the hotel as “untrue”.

Related Internet Links

  • Blaze hotel owner brands claims of safety fears ‘false’ – Scotland – The Times

  • Safety consultants raised 29 concerns about Perth fire hotel

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