Pier alarm company says instructed not to call 999

PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 September 2011

The Grand Pier by about 8am on the morning of the fire

The Grand Pier by about 8am on the morning of the fire

Archant

ONE of the companies taken to court over the devastating 2008 Grand Pier blaze says it was instructed not to call 999 if fire alarms sounded at the seafront landmark.

The landmark’s owners are suing Weston’s System 2 Security Limited and their sub-contractors Essex-based Yeoman Monitoring Services for £39million amid allegations that an alert was activated hours before flames destroyed the pavilion – and ignored.

The Grand Pier served papers on the two companies earlier this year and both the Locking Road firm and the Harlow one denied any wrong-doing.

During a case management hearing at the Mercantile Court in Bristol on Friday, evidence showed both defendants agree that System 2 Security Ltd sub-contracted the other firm and then instructed it to take the pier off fire service notification in 2007.

Yeomans says it was never told to reinstate it.

But on Yeomans website it says: “Fast alarm signalling saves lives and property, and can mean the difference between life and death, particularly at night when the most serious fires occur.

“Prompt action is vital. Even if there’s no one around, as soon as an alarm is received, help is on its way immediately to deal with the fire and prevent it spreading.

“Our system ensures that within seconds of a fire alarm being set off, an alert will automatically be on its way to our 24-hour, year-round receiving centre enabling us to summon emergency help without delay.”

Kerry and Michelle Michael claim that the alarms first went off at the seafront landmark at 1.35am on July 27, 2008.

They say it was then suspended multiple times, sometimes for hours at a time, for more than five hours, before a member of the public saw the flames and raised the alarm.

System 2 Security, according to Bristol Mercantile Court papers seen by the Mercury, was responsible at the time of the fire for providing alarm monitoring services to the pier.

The company then instructed Yeoman Monitoring Services to monitor the alarm systems on the attractions and paid it for the service.

But Kerry and Michelle Michael, who own the Grand Pier, say the fire that ripped through the attraction in 2008 may not have resulted in such a devastating loss if emergency services had been called when the remote alarm was activated.

By 6.45am when a member of the public saw the smoke, the fire had spread.

Logs put together by Yeoman Monitoring Services show that a call to the Grand Pier was made when the alarm first went off and that multiple calls were made to key holder Mark Phillips until shortly after 4am.

But the Grand Pier owners claim no attempt was made to contact Mr Phillips who was in Spain, or second keyholder Mike Joannou.

At 4.06am the alarms was suspended for 100 minutes and at 5.48am it was suspended for four hours, according to court papers.

Evidence was heard at the court in Bristol on Friday, where it was revealed that the case is not likely to go to trial for more than a year.

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