We bring you the latest fire prosecutions to highlight the importance of fire safety and to remind you of the risks and legal consequences that can occur when fire safety regulations are breached.
This month we’ve been looking at prosecutions against care homes who have failed to comply with basic fire safety regulations. As a result of inadequate training and lack of attention to detail, both cases we looked at this month tragically resulted in avoidable deaths.
A company which ran a care home in South London has been prosecuted for breaching fire safety regulations following the death of a resident.
Gold Care Consultancy Ltd pleaded guilty to two offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, after a 78 year-old resident tragically died from severe burns and injuries.
London Fire Brigade fire investigators found a series of serious safety concerns at the care home following the fire. The fire risk assessment for the premises was outdated and overdue for review. The fire risk assessment failings included:
Following the incident, fire inspectors found two modified lighters in the victim's room at the care home which allowed larger flames and may not have extinguished when released.
The elderly resident was also prescribed emollient cream which contained 50% flammable ingredients.
London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Dan Daly said: “The fire risk assessment did not adequately reflect the fact that Mrs McDonald was at serious risk in the event of a fire. She was a resident who smoked and had severe cognitive impairment.
Not only did she have lighters but she also had flammable ointments applied to the skin. These were serious breaches of fire safety and measures to safeguard the wellbeing of this resident could have been put in place easily and quickly and at little cost.
“Carers need to look at the individual needs of the people they look after and incorporate fire risk into the care planning process.
Gold Care Consultancy was fined £90,000 plus £15,000 prosecution fees at Southwark Crown Court on May 3. The care home was closed shortly after the fire.
Another care home, this time in Hertfordshire, has been successfully prosecuted for fire safety offences.
Newgrange of Cheshunt Ltd runs the home and admitted five charges of failing to comply with fire safety legislation.
The fire started from an electrical fault which spread to the roof, and killed two elderly residents ho weren’t able to evacuate the property quickly.
t is believed that staff on shift at the time had not completed recognised training which would have educated them on how to evacuate a care home safely.
A full evacuation didn’t take place until the fire brigade had arrived on site. 33 of the residents were rescued, three of whom needed hospital treatment for burns and the effects of breathing in smoke.
The company was fined £175,000 and will have to pay prosecution costs.
Speaking after the sentencing at St Albans Crown Court, Hertfordshire's chief fire officer Darryl Keen said: "This incident highlights the need for all business owners to ensure they fully comply with fire safety legislation.
"If enough competent staff had been present and properly trained to carry out long-established and recognised guidance on evacuations in a care home I am sure that a full evacuation would have been started long before our arrival.
"Evacuation of a care home is a difficult task and needs to be properly considered and practised so that everyone can escape unharmed."
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