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Freelance journalist

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Ron Alalouff is a journalist specialising in the fire and security markets, and a former editor of websites and magazines in the same fields.
January 25, 2023


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Inadequate fire doors and concerns over compartmentation revealed by Perth hotel audit three weeks before fatal fire

The hotel in Perth where three people died in a fire early on 2 January was the subject of a range of fire safety recommendations, following a fire safety audit carried out by Scottish Fire and Rescue just three weeks before the fatal fire.

The audit of the New County Hotel listed 21 improvements that needed to be made following an inspection on 12 December, according to a report in The Courier.

The findings and recommendations of the audit included:

  • Defects with and inadequate coverage of the emergency lighting system, with a recommendation for a system upgrade
  • Various fire doors not providing the correct fire resistance, for example doors with missing strips and seals
  • Confirmation that fire resistance ratings of fire doors meet compartment requirements
  • Assessment of the fire resistance of walls and ceilings around the stairwell between the first and second floors where their integrity has been breached, with reinstatement if required
  • The requirement of a survey of air transfer grilles in the bar and reception which may allow passage of fire and smoke to the first floor
  • Assessment to ensure the correct fire resistance where pipework and cabling passes through floors separating storeys used for sleeping accommodation
  • Fire drills should be carried out periodically and recorded to ensure all employees understand the emergency fire action plan

Following the audit, it is not known whether any improvements were made by the hotel before the fire on 2 January. Neither is it clear whether the measures outlined by the fire service amounted simply to areas for improvement, or to notification of deficiencies requiring prompt remedial action by the hotel.

Asked to comment on the report, a spokesperson for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “A joint investigation is ongoing and it would be inappropriate to provide any further comment at this time.”

The three people killed in the fire were Keith Russell and sisters Donna Janse Van Rensburg and Sharon McLean. Donna’s dog also died in the fire. At its height more than 60 firefighters and nine fire appliances were at the scene after the alarm was raised shortly after 5.00 am.


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