23 August 2022

Cameron House fire: Hotel told to put policy in place for clearing ashes in 2016

23 August 2022

The hotel where a blaze killed two people was told in 2016 that a written policy should be put in place for clearing ashes from open fires and grills, a Fatal Accident Inquiry heard.

Mark Clayton, the director of Veteran Fire Safety, was at Cameron House hotel near Balloch, Loch Lomond in early 2016 as part of an assessment making the recommendation.

Simon Midgley, 32, and Richard Dyson, 38, were both killed when a fire broke out there in December 2017.

Simon Midgley (right) and Richard Dyson who were killed in a fire at Cameron House in 2017 (Family/PA) (PA Media)

Earlier on Tuesday, night porter Christopher O’Malley had said he did not initially tell police in the aftermath that he had put a bag full of ashes into a cupboard.

Mr O’Malley told a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the deaths of Mr Midgley and Mr Dyson: “It didn’t come to me until later that’s what it was, that’s when I started to think, that’s what could have been responsible.”

Witness Christopher O’Malley leaving Paisley Sheriff Court after giving evidence at the fatal accident inquiry into the Cameron House Hotel fire (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Clayton explained to the inquiry how his company was appointed as a contractor to complete fire risk assessments at Cameron House and the Village Hotels group in 2016.

He told the court he “knew something wasn’t right” when he observed a “young man” disposing of ashes from an open grill in the kitchen area of the hotel during a visit in 2016.

He said: “I came across a young man, around 18 years old and he was emptying hot ashes throughout the hotel.

“I asked him ‘Could you tell me what you are doing?'”

Mr Clayton said the main hazard from taking ashes through the hotel and not straight outside where bins were kept was fire and carbon monoxide.

He also told the court that ashes should never be left unattended.

He was then asked what equipment he would expect to be available to staff members.

A pair of gloves should have been made available to staff, Mr Clayton said, as well as a receptacle made of “non-combustible material” and a metal shovel.

The inquiry had previously heard from Mr O’Malley on Tuesday morning and night manager Ann Rundell on Monday that these items were not always available, and staff would use chafing dishes from the kitchen as well as ice buckets from room service to dispose of ashes.

Mr O’Malley also claimed he did not know the ashes could still be a fire hazard five hours later when asked why he disposed of them in the concierge cupboard.

Veteran Fire Safety recommended the hotel put a written policy in place as a matter of urgency and identified it as a significant fire risk.

Jane Midgley, mother of victim Simon Midgley arriving at Paisley Sheriff Court for the fatal accident inquiry into the Cameron House Hotel fire (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

However, on a return visit in early 2017, Mr Clayton’s colleague David Woodward, noted that he had not seen the written policy.

He was then challenged on a chain of emails between him, the resort director of Cameron House, Andy Roger and the company’s health and safety manager, Fiona Meek where Mr Roger claimed a mistake had been made in the subsequent 2017 report which stated none of the recommendations that had been made the previous year, had been implemented.

Mr Roger claimed the changes had been implemented.

Mr Woodward was asked to clarify the points to which Mr Woodward responded he had made a mistake but maintained he had not seen a policy which dealt with clearing ashes.

Mr Clayton was asked if any checks were done to verify Mr Roger’s claim.

Mr Clayton said there had not and told the inquiry he took Mr Roger “at his word” that the recommendations had been implemented.

He was asked whether he requested to see a copy of the written policy, to which he responded he had not.

The inquiry at Paisley Sheriff Court, before Sheriff Thomas McCartney, continues.

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