Coronavirus: Employer’s resource centre — live guidance available here

Luxury hotel fine criticised following fatal fire

BY Lee Craig
Health & Safety

Following the fatal fire in December 2017, Cameron House has been ordered to pay £500,000 after admitting to fire safety breaches.


A hotel porter whose actions led to the fire was given a community order to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

The fire started after the night porter, placed a plastic bag of ash in a cupboard containing kindling and newspapers. Staff had previously been advised not to do this.

Richard Dyson and Simon Midgley died in the blaze.

Cameron House  had pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to implement fire safety measures necessary to ensure the safety of staff and guests.

A survivor who was in the room next to the couple, said she felt "ignored and angry" after the sentencing and aggrieved at the fine handed down. She told BBC Scotland, ‘Two men have lost their lives, and they (Cameron House) continue to trade. They are barely going to notice it.’

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie also criticised the sentences. ‘What we heard today, in the context of two young men losing their lives, does not seem enough. We have a major hotel that failed to heed the advice given to them by the fire brigade and others.’

Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard that staff were not properly trained in the safe disposal of ash and no written procedures were in place. Recommendations made in two fire risk assessments carried out by an independent company in 2016 and 2017 had not been implemented.

In August 2017, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service told managers not to store combustibles - like kindling and newspapers - in the concierge cupboard, but staff continued to do so. An incident had occurred only three nights before the fatal fire, when the night porters were told not to put ash into plastic bags because it was a fire hazard.

Peter Gray QC, acting for Cameron House, said the failings were not deliberate breaches but were the result of genuine errors and that the hotel had a "suite of measures in place" to deal with fire safety.

The fire had gone undetected for a long period before being discovered and spread when the cupboard door was opened. Staff had attempted to fight the fire, but it was already too developed.

After the sentencing, Alistair Duncan, head of the Health and Safety Investigation Unit, said, ’This incident should serve as a reminder to other companies that failure to implement the necessary fire safety measures can have terrible consequences.’

Stuart Stevens, assistant chief officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said the "needless loss of two lives" could have been prevented if the advice provided had been followed.’

© Copyright of Law At Work 2021 Law At Work is part of Marlowe plc’s employee relations division