Hospitality/Leisure, News

The warm glow of candlelight comes with risks – as this ex-Apprentice star learned the hard way

Fiery: When Lord Sugar fired James Hill from The Apprentice, he praised the young man for 'sparks of entrepreneurialism'. A true observation in more ways than one.

If you’re lighting a restaurant and you want to replicate the warmth and ambience of an open flame, you could try halogens, you could try some fancy LEDs or you could try… open flames.

But beware the serious fire risk – and the law. And the need for emergency lighting.

Nobody knows that better than James Hill, a star of British reality TV show The Apprentice who has pleaded guilty to health-and-safety charges after a tea light in his Chesterfield nightclub caught a guest’s shirt on fire, the Derbyshire Times reported. (For our American readers: a tea light is one of those small, squat candles, often in metal casing).

The man suffered serious burns in January 2014 at Havana Whites, a Cuban-themed night spot that James helped his father Jason Hill run. The senior Hill was director of the company that owned the club at the time.

James Hill has agreed to pay a fine of over £6,000 ($9,500) for violating the health and safety regulations.

Jason Hill has also admitted offences ‘including two health and safety breaches relating to staff and customers at Havana Whites and four counts of failing to comply with fire legislation – putting people at risk of serious injury or death’ the paper wrote. He is awaiting sentencing.

The prosecutor in the case noted that the Hills failed to act on previous fire warnings and had not trained staff properly.

‘Investigations revealed a string of failures, including an inadequate fire exit and a lack of emergency lighting and smoke alarm testing,’ the Times  reported.

Chesterfield Borough Councillor Chris Ludlow noted, ‘The failures in this case to put in place measures to protect the health and safety of staff working at Havana Whites and of its customers are shocking especially after they were told not to leave naked flames out in the bar area following a previous visit by the council’s health and safety officer.’

Phil Mitchell from the Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service added, ‘The fire exit from the rear yard was insufficient, the escape lighting and fire alarm were not being maintained, the premises fire risk assessment had not been reviewed and was inadequate and some staff were not suitably trained in fire safety.’

James Hill, who has a criminal assault record and whose Apprentice promotional photo bears a likeness to Leonardo di Caprio, made it through eight shows of The Apprentice last autumn before host Lord Alan Sugar booted him.

In The Apprentice, aspiring business people compete for one grand prize of a £250,000 ($399,000) investment and co-ownership of their own business by Lord Sugar.

When Lord Sugar dismissed Hill with the signature phrase ‘you’re fired’, he said he saw ‘sparks of entrepreneurialism’ in the young man.

Sparks indeed.

Photo is from  the BBC