Ensure you take your fire safety responsibilities seriously

20th April 2016

The team at Vulcan Fire Training are advising businesses to ensure they take their fire safety responsibilities and legal obligations seriously to avoid the risk of prosecution.

Managing director, Graham Holloway, has over 55 years experience working in the fire services industry, and comments: “The consequences of not adhering to government legislation on fire safety can be severe, and claiming ignorance is not a defence! If you are a business owner it is your responsibility to ensure you have a fire risk assessment, produce a fire emergency plan, and implement and maintain a fire risk management system.”

Vulcan urge businesses to take fire safety responsibilities seriously

As a warning and example of the potential outcomes if you fail to meet your fire safety obligations, we have outlined a few recent prosecutions below.

Landlord prosecuted for fire safety breaches after fatal fire 
A number of fire safety breaches at a property in Bolton resulted in the death of a 49 year old father of two.

The case, which has seen the landlord prosecuted and fined, demonstrates the need for landlords to be fully aware of the situations in their tenanted properties, with regular inspections to ensure regulations are not breached.

Following the tragedy a number of breaches were found including:

    • Smoke alarm turned off (by a previous tenant)
    • Back-up alarm system not working
    • Fire extinguisher not serviced
    • No fire blanket in flat.

Source: FIA

Landlord jailed for fire safety offences
The landlord of a tenanted property in Edgbaston has been jailed for 19 months over a catalogue of safety breaches including:

    • Faulty fire alarms 
    • Blocked escape route
    • Damaged fire door
    • Incorrectly fitted emergency lighting.
    • In sentencing the judge told Cyrus Bassiri that he had been greedy, cynical and exploitative of the occupants in the property.
    • Bassiri was also ordered to pay £13,820 costs.

Source: Birmingham Mail

Care home owners fined £380k following fire
The owners of Donwell Care Home in Washington, Tyne & Wear - the Shaftesbury Care Group Ltd - have been fined £380,000 for five breaches of fire safety regulations following a fire that destroyed a bedroom and caused severe smoke damage.

The incident also resulted in the hospitalisation of an elderly lady who became trapped in her room, and had to be rescued by firefighters.

Failings uncovered by an investigation included:

    • Fire doors being wedged open
    • Many of the building’s fire extinguishers were condemned and hadn’t been replaced
    • Failure to carry out actions identified in a fire risk assessment.

Source: SHP Online 

It seems that, in some cases, lessons have still not been learnt as a result of the terrible fire in Rosepark care home, Lanarkshire, in 2004 which resulted in the deaths of 14 people. This fire could have been avoided had a proper risk assessment been carried out and the findings acted on.

Rosepark Overview
The fire itself was caused by an earth fault at the back of an electrical distribution box in a storage cupboard. But the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) determination by Sheriff Principal Brian Lockhart lists a catalogue of precautions that, if taken, might have avoided the deaths.

Central to these was the lack of a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. The document purporting to be a risk assessment “critically failed to identify the residents of the home as persons at risk in the event of fire; it paid limited attention to the means of escape, the protection of the means of escape and the arrangements for evacuation,” says the report.

Failings that would have been highlighted in a thorough fire risk assessment included:

    • The storage cupboard to have been kept securely closed, to have been fitted with fire resisting doors, and not to have contained combustible materials inside
    • All bedroom doors to have had door closers and smoke seals fitted to them
    • The installation of fire dampers according to building regulations
    • Adequate staff training including fire drills.

To ensure your business is fully compliant with fire safety regulations, we offer a wide range of fire safety training courses. For more information click here.