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Effective Evacuation and Swift Firefighting Actions Avert Major Fire at Newquay Hotel

An iconic hotel on the cliffs of Newquay in Cornwall was the scene of a fire that provides testimony to the value of the Fire and Rescue Service phrase ‘Prevention, Protection, Response’. The benefits of each of the three elements ensured that a fire that could have been devastating was dealt with without injury and with limited damage.

The Atlantic Hotel situated on the Newquay Headland

At 0304 hours on Sunday 20th May, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Services Critical Control room received the first of fourteen 999 calls to a fire involving a first-floor bedroom at the Atlantic Hotel.

The 57 room, four-star star hotel, which looks over Newquay and it’s famous Fistral and town beaches was built in 1892

The pre-determined attendance was mobilised from Newquay and neighbouring fire stations. En route, the first appliance Officer in Charge requested additional resources based on what he could see and information received by the Control Centre.

Hotel staff completed the hotel evacuation and accounted for guests whilst fire crews were committed internally and an aerial ladder platform was deployed externally.

Additional appliances from Perranporth, St Columb, St Dennis, St Just and Truro attended along with supervisory and specialist officers. The fire was contained to one first floor room with minor smoke damage affecting a small number of other rooms in the hotel.

Chief Fire Officer, Paul Walker was swift to praise the efforts of all involved. He stated “My thanks to all Critical Control staff, officers, operational crews and partner agencies involved in this incident. Well done for following our shared aim of working together to make Cornwall Safer”

Newquay Councillor and former portfolio holder for Fire and Rescue, Geoff Brown also attended the scene. Councillor Brown said “I am proud of the way Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service and the wider Cornwall Council Services responded. We have a reputation for supporting our residents, businesses and visitors and I witnessed this first hand in this incident. I’m very relieved that no one was injured and that the damage to the Atlantic Hotel was limited due to the professional way in which the Fire and Rescue Service, Cornwall Council’s Resilience Team and the Hotel staff responded. The conduct of guests who must have been concerned and shaken was both calm and positive throughout.

The Hotel quickly invoked its own, well-developed business continuity plan. This saw guests quickly relocated to temporary accommodation as a precaution overnight. Business-as-usual resumed just a few hours later with guests being served breakfast and returning to their rooms later in the morning.

The Atlantic Hotel is subject to the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The arrangements at the Hotel were subject to an Audit by Officers of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service earlier this year when fire safety arrangements were found to comply with the necessary requirements.

A fire investigation completed by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service has determined that the most likely cause of the fire was the careless disposal of a cigarette.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager responsible for Fire Protection, Prevention and Road Safety, Justin Sharp said “We have an audit and inspection programme which is based on evidence of risk. This ensures we target those premises that represent the highest risk to life, property, business and heritage amongst other factors. This approach has resulted in improvements to fire safety arrangements over the past decade. I believe that the positive outcome of this incident demonstrates we are targeting the right premises” 

This incident is perhaps similar to the majority of fire incidents to which the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) respond on a daily basis by virtue of the fact that swift actions of residents, staff and the FRS limit damage to the extent it is deemed un-newsworthy. Incidents that end in tragedy or loss of life make the news and so they should as examples of where things have gone badly wrong but sometimes it is worth reflecting on more positive outcomes as examples of where things go right.

UK Fire is publishing the details of the incident at the Atlantic Hotel as a testament to the benefits of fire safety compliance and to highlight the positive results regularly achieved in prevention, protection and response by the Fire and Rescue Service across the UK.

The outcome of this incident demonstrates that damage can be mitigated and lives saved where responsible premises owners ensure they manage their fire precautions. Staff who are proficient in their role in the event of a fire can make a significant contribution when a fire occurs along with members of the public provided they have knowledge of evacuation and escape plans.

The incident also demonstrates the professionalism of our Fire and Rescue Services and their ability to respond professionally and decisively in carrying out a swift and safe fire attack.

For further information visit www.cornwall.gov.uk/Fire

A video of the fire can be seen on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GbciRKW5Ic

The main image shows the scene at the time of fire crews arriving. Picture courtesy of Cornwall FRS, Newquay Fire Station

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