Vulcan brings you some of the latest fire prosecutions from July 2019 to highlight the importance of compliance, and to remind you of the risks and legal consequences that can occur when fire safety regulations are breached.
This month we’re looking at the prosecution of a hotel owner in Preston and a landlord in Southport whose fire safety failings put guests and tenants at risk.
Graham Hammer, a hotel owner in Preston, has been ordered to pay £38,000 in fines and costs and given a 6 month suspended sentence for putting the lives of guests and tenants at risk.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service carried out an inspection at the property last year and found multiple breaches. Fire safety failings included inadequate escape routes, compartmentation and fire detection, leaving staff and occupants at risk of death or serious injury in the case of a fire.
Hammer had reported problems with water leaking into electrical systems, but said he didn’t believe there was anything in the building that could cause a fire. The fire alarm was also faulty, some fire doors were jammed or ill-fitting, and one was locked with a bolt on the outside.
It was also found that while the property was listed as a hotel, the premises were being run as multiple occupancy housing.
Hammer has previously been convicted of fire safety offences in 2005, and in 2006 was given an action plan from Lancashire FRS, yet still allowed long and short term residents to remain in a dangerous property.
Preston Crown Court heard that Hammer “displayed a casual, if not cavalier attitude to fire safety.” He was sentenced to a 6 month sentence, suspended for 12 months, with a 2 month curfew, and was ordered to pay a £20,000 fine and £18,790 costs.
Landlord Heather Jackson has been ordered to pay nearly £60,000 in fines and costs after putting vulnerable tenants at risk at 16 bedsits in Southport.
At an inspection by Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, it was found that Jackson didn’t have a licence for the housing she was running, and failed to provide sufficient evidence of gas safety records.
Further fire safety failings included deactivated fire alarms, blocked escape routes, a fire door that had been locked shut, and a fire exit corridor that had been converted into a makeshift kitchen.
A representative for Sefton Council said, “HMO legislation is put in place to help protect tenants and also serves to ensure landlords comply with all rules and regulations.
“As seen today, this was clearly not the case and we welcome the outcome at court and the substantial fines imposed.”
Jackson pleaded guilty to 12 housing standards offences and was fined £55,000, ordered to pay £29,89.67 in court costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
Vulcan Fire Training offer accredited fire safety training courses throughout the UK to provide the tools, information and skills to empower our delegates to confidently manage fire safety in their workplaces.
For more information about our fire safety training, or to book a place on one of our upcoming public or in-house dates, call our friendly team on 01925 211488 or see our full list of available courses here.