Fire Risk – “too awful to contemplate”

People still put profit before safety. The man who created a fire safety risk that was described as “too awful to contemplate” by massive overcrowding during at an event at York’s Kuda nightclub has been given a suspended prison sentence.

The club was rated to a safe capacity of 645, but during a Basshunter event in November 2017 there were 1,3000 customers in the premises, who were mostly squeezed into a 22 metres by 22 metres area on the first floor.

The club’s former general manager Wayne Mason, along with Deltic Group Limited (the club’s owners) and Securigroup Services Ltd (the door staff company) will pay £110,000 in fines and court costs.

In the words of the Judge at Leeds Crown Court:

Had there been a fire, it is too awful to contemplate what might have happened … There was an obvious and very real risk of death or serious injury to a large number of people had a fire occurred.

Mr Mehta, prosecuting for North Yorkshire Fire Authority, reported that the advance ticket sales exceeded the maximum safe capacity, but Mason still allowed people to buy tickets on the door. When the door staff objected he over-ruled them and people continued to go into the nightclub.

There were several factors taken into consideration as well as the overcrowding:

  • The loud music would have prevented customers from hearing evacuation instructions.
  • The overcrowding would have prevented staff from seeing which customers needed help and from getting to customers needing help.
  • The evacuation routes were narrow.
  • Most of the customers had been drinking and many may have been unfamiliar with the nightclub’s layout.

In the words of the Judge

His behaviour in relation to this event was so serious it clearly crosses the custodial threshold.

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