Rotherham United FC and catering firm must pay thousands of pounds after fire safety breaches
Rotherham United and caterers Centerplate must pay thousands of pounds in fines after fire safety breaches at the football club’s stadium during two events.
Judge David Dixon fined RUFC and Centerplate at a Sheffield Crown Court hearing on January 13 after finding visitors at two events, including a beer festival and a Festive Lunch at the club’s ground, had been put at risk during a false alarm.
Rotherham United was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £14,500 costs and Centerplate was fined £130,000 and ordered to pay £7,500 costs after they both admitted failing to take safety precautions at the New York Football Stadium, at Rotherham, during non-match days.
The court heard the stadium hosted a beer festival, with 200 guests, on the first floor and a Festive Lunch, with 90 guests including many elderly people on the second floor on January 10, 2015, with both booked with Centerplate.
Judge Dixon highlighted a lack of communication between the defendants and described staffing as insufficient with limited fire safety knowledge and training.
A fire alarm activated about 3.45pm – which turned out to be false – but no one was aware of that at the time.
Beer festival guests were escorted to a locked fire escape but the court did not attach blame for this to either of the defendants.
Centerplate’s duty manager directed those with mobility issues to the lifts, according to Judge Dixon, but the lifts did not arrive because they had been disabled by the alarm and people were re-directed to the service lifts which also failed to arrive. He added that no one knew how to use the four evac chairs.
Judge Dixon said all of the visitors were not evacuated from the stadium for 15 to 20 minutes and although no one was injured, the fear and distress could not be underestimated.
Judge Dixon found neither defendant had trained staff appropriately and the lift deactivation could have been over-ridden by a security man with a key. He added Centerplate had also failed to inform its staff about the lifts or the use of any key.
Both defendants have since brought in improvements, according to Judge Dixon.