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20th April 2022

Landlord Given £40k Fine For Fire Safety Failings

What’s Happened?

A landlord and the Responsible Person for an office block in Bedford have recently been fined over £40,000 relating to a number of breaches of the Fire Safety Order.

A site audit of the property was undertaken by Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service’s (BFRS) resulted in various deficiencies being identified. As such, both the owner of the property, and the ‘Responsible Person’ were both given a Notice of Deficiencies letter. Within this letter they were given two months’ notice to rectify the issues raised.

Enforcement Notice

However, when BFRS revisited the property to undertake follow-up inspections on two separate occasions, they became concerned that no action had been taken, and this ultimately lead to an Enforcement Notice being served on the owner.

The Enforcement Notice stated the following:

  • The Fire Risk Assessment had not been reviewed since December 2015.
  • The external fire escape was in a poor state of repair with steps missing.
  • Numerous fire resisting doors within the building were in poor condition.
  • The fire alarm system was inadequate for the risk.
  • There was inadequate fire exit signs and fire action notices.
  • There was no evidence that the firefighting equipment, fire alarm, and emergency lighting systems had been maintained.

The owner was given a further three months to address the above issues. However – when yet another follow-up inspection was undertaken by BFRS, they noted that with the exception of some new firefighting being installed, all other remaining actions detailed in the notice had still not been addressed.

These failings in fire safety measures placed persons at risk of serious injury or death should a fire occur, and as such prosecution proceedings were instigated.

In Court

The Responsible Person appeared at Luton Magistrates court on 21 January 2022, charged with four offences of the Fire Safety Order, namley:

  • The fire risk assessment had not been reviewed since December 2015, and as such did not assess the risks to which relevant persons were exposed to.
  • The fire warning system was inadequate for the premises, and as such persons within the building would not receive a timely warning should a fire occur.
  • The external fire escape was in a poor state of repair with broken and missing treads that could result in injury to those having to use it.
  • A number of fire doors were in a poor state of repair, with broken and missing locks and gaps in the doors that would allow the passage of smoke and flames, affecting the ability of the occupants to escape should a fire occur.

The responsible person pleaded guilty to all the above offences, and sentencing took place on 18 March 2022. The Magistrate stated that there was a history of non-compliance going back to 2015, and that the failure to provide adequate fire safety measures was a serious offence. A fine of £10,000 for each of the four offences was levied, totalling £40,000. Full costs were also awarded to BFRS, equating to a further £10,525.

After the prosecution the Chief Fire Officer involved in the case said: “This prosecution sends out a clear message to landlords that if you do not comply with the required fire safety regulations then we are prepared to take enforcement action to keep people safe.

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