22nd June 2017
Record Fine Over Lack of Fire Risk Assessment
In a rather timely prosecution given recent events at Grenfell Tower in London, a corporate landlord and its management company which both failed to carry out a fire risk assessment for an apartment building in London have been fined a total of £250,000 after a fire broke out and destroyed the premises.
This is the largest penalty to date handed down from a single prosecution for fire safety breaches.
Property owner Crownpark Investments along with City Estates, which managed the six-floor terraced house conversion on Eccleston Square in Pimlico, pleaded guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 after a fire broke out during the early hours of 21 February 2011. Eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters were called to tackle the blaze, which badly damaged the second, third and fourth floors. Thirteen people were rescued.
Series of failings
Following the incident, inspectors from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) discovered several fire safety failings, including a lack of fire alarm or detection system inside the flats and communal areas, and no fire risk assessment in place for the building. They also found that the doors to the individual flats provided inadequate protection to the escape route in the event of a fire.
Accident waiting to happen
In sentencing the companies the Judge remarked that both defendants had been aware of the fire safety failings within the property but reacted “by putting their heads in the sand”, and described the building as an “accident waiting to happen”.
City Estates was fined £120,000 for not carrying out a fire risk assessment, £15,000 for failing to equip the premises with adequate fire detection, and £15,000 for failing to ensure persons could evacuate the building safely.
Crownpark Investments was fined £80,000, £10,000 and £10,000 for the same breaches respectively.
Following the case, LFB’s assistant commissioner for fire safety said: “The landlord and management company showed utter contempt for the safety of their tenants when they so blatantly ignored the fire safety failures in the building. Hopefully the size of the fine handed down in this case will send a strong message to other private landlords who ignore their fire safety responsibilities in such a brazen way.”