Belfast Telegraph

Derry youth hostel is hit with fire warning after safety audit

By Brendan McDaid

Fire escape routes from an award-winning 41-bed youth hostel were found to be obstructed during a summer inspection.

Paddy’s Palace, in Londonderry city centre, fell foul of 24 fire safety regulations in an enforcement notice published by Fire and Rescue Service (FRS).

The hostel failed to ensure the safety of “relevant persons” or to carry out a fire safety risk assessment in the July inspection.

Nor had it implemented fire safety measures, the report said. Escape routes were obstructed and they could not be used as quickly and as safely as possible.

Evacuation procedures or drills were found to be insufficient, while the fire alarm system was “inadequately maintained”.

The hostel was deemed fully compliant with legislation in a follow-up inspection on August 17, six weeks after the enforcement notice was issued.

The hostel’s co-owner Stephen McPhilemy yesterday urged other businesses to contact the Fire Service to get advice on safety.

He said: “We weren’t aware of the new legislation and the fire department very kindly came and gave us training and explained the new procedures and we are very happy that that was the case.

“It was a genuine oversight on our part, and for us fire safety is of absolute importance. It is very good of the Fire Service to come out and make businesses aware.”

Paddy’s Palace was named and shamed yesterday on the Fire & Rescue Service website.

Fire risk consultant David F Hamilton said: “The new legislation has been in place over a year now, meaning that all owners have an obligation to conduct a fire safety audit in their premises.”

The new regulations require all non-domestic premises to hold a valid fire safety risk assessment.

The FRS audits premises.

Mr Hamilton added: “I would urge all businesses to be aware of their obligations. If they ignore enforcement notices from the FRS, the next stage is prosecution.

“One large London retailer has been fined £400,000 for a fire on its premises and a failure to comply with fire regulations.”

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